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Full text of "The life of Nathaniel Macon"

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NA . fLArl LbJ. 








.REESE LIBRARY 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA. 






SB^Sfr. 




. 

, 
LIFE OF NATHANIEL MACON 



THE LIFE OF 



NATHANIEL MACON 



BY 



WILLIAM E. DODD, PH.D., 

Professor of History in Randolph-Macon College. 




RALEIOH, N. C. 

Edwards & Broughton, Printers and Binders. 
1908. 




REESE 



TO MY WIFE, MATTIE JOHNS DODD, 

whose encouragement and practical assistance 

have so much aided in the completion 

of my undertaking, 
THIS BOOK IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED. 



192758 



CONTENTS. 



Chapter. Page. 

I. The Macon Family, T 

II. At College, 7 

III. North Carolina During the Revolution, 13 

IV. In the Army Again. 23 

V. In the General Assembly, 1781-1785, . 31 

VI. Founding a Home, 1782-1891, ... 41 
VII. The Adoption of the National Consti 
tution, 46 

VIII. First Years in Congress, i79i-i?95, 5$ 
IX. Leader of the North Carolina Delega 
tion, 79 

X. Macon and the Federalist Supremacy, 

1797-1801, 104 

XI. The Revolution of 1800, 156 

XII. Republican Supremacy, 1801-1805, . 168 

XIII. Macon and the "Quids," 1805-1808, . 198 

XIV. Repeal of the Embargo, 1807-1809, . 217 
XV. Macon a National Character, 1809-1812, 242 

XVI. Revolution in Congress and the War 

of 1812, 273 

XVII. In the United States Senate, 1815-1828, 291 

XVIII. In the United States Senate, 1820-1828, 331 

XIX. Macon s Last Years, 37 

Appendix 4 02 

Index 43 1 

Bibliography xvi 




PREFACE. 



The raison d etre of a biography of Nathaniel Ma- 
con is to be found in the unique and also important 
role he played in our national life and in the great 
sectional contest which filled the first half of the 
nineteenth century. No comprehensive life of Ma- 
con has ever been attempted. A half dozen news 
paper articles, and of recent years a few semi-scien 
tific sketches of his career, have been published ; and 
some letters of Macon with introductions and notes 
have appeared since the writer began his searches for 
materials. But none of these have given more than 
a glimpse of the able leader and astute politician who 
so long held the first place in the political affairs of 
North Carolina. 

In the midst of the duties of a teacher of history, 
the author has tried to get together the scanty 
materials bearing on Macon s life, and to draw from 
these a picture of his rise to prominence in North 
Carolina during and just after the Revolution, of his 
activity as an ardent Jefferson republican, which 
brought him to the Speakership of Congress, of his 
long and determined opposition to Clay s American 
system, and finally of his share in the Jackson cam 
paigns. How well this self-imposed task has been 
done, how accurately the picture of the real Macon 
has been drawn, is for the reader to determine. But 
one thing at least may be said of the work: it has 
been attempted, and with the attempt some of the 
materials of North Carolina s history have been col 
lected and put within the reach of the public. In 
drawing the outlines of Macon s life a cursory 
review of the historv of North Carolina has also been 



XIV PREPACK. 

made, which will scarce be taken amiss by those 
who appreciate the present state of history writing 
in this section of the country. 

Foremost among those who have lent valuable 
assistance in the collecting of the data for this work 
are Judge A. B. Hagner, of Washington, D. C. ; 
Mrs. Walter K. Martin, of Richmond, Virginia ; and 
Prof. Kemp P. Battle, of Chapel Hill, North Caro 
lina, all of whom gave free access to collections of 
Macon letters in their possession. Mr. S. M. Ham 
ilton, of Washington, was particularly courteous in 
making the collections of the Department of State 
so freely accessible. Senator Lodge, Henry Adams 
and Prof. J. F. Jameson took the trouble to put me 
in communication with persons who owned Macon 
letters and other data. 

Josephus Daniels, Esq., of Raleigh, North Caro 
lina, has manifested the greatest interest in the work 
from the beginning, and has given invaluable aid on 
several occasions. Capt. M. O. Sherrill, the effi 
cient State Librarian of North Carolina, has at all 
times taken particular pains to render my use of the 
sources of information under his charge as easy 
and rapid as possible. Justices Walter A. Montgom 
ery, Walter Clark and Charles A. Cook, of the 
North Carolina Supreme Court; Gen. Matthew W. 
Ransom, of Garysburg; Col. H. C. Eccles, of Char 
lotte; Hon. Thomas M. Pittman and Col. Fran 
cis A. Macon, of Henderson, and Samuel L. Adams, 
Esq., of Elon College, North Carolina, have all lent 
generous assistance to my undertaking. Dr. Ulrich 
B. Phillips, of Wisconsin University, very kindly 
lent assistance in collecting Macon letters. To all of 
these, and many others who have given similar 
assistance, the author takes this means of expressing 
his hearty thanks. 



PREFACE. XV 

My colleagues, Doctors E. W. Bowen and A. C. 
Wightman, and also Hon. H. G. Connor, Associate 
Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, 
have very kindly assisted in the tedious work of 
proof-reading, though they are in no way to be held 
responsible for errors and imperfections which the 
book doubtless contains. For this generous aid at 
a very trying season, the author desires here to 
express his hearty appreciation. 

W. E. D. 

RANDOLPH-MACON COLLEGE, VA., August i, 1903. 



NOTE : The recent appearance of volume 22 of the North 
Carolina State Records brings to light the journals of the 
General Assembly for the year 1790, which were supposed 
to have been lost. The author, at least, was unable to find 
them in the manuscript archives of the State Department. 

These journals show that Macon returned to the Legisla 
ture as a member of the House of Representatives in 1790. 
He was very active and exerted great influence on the pro 
ceedings of the body particularly when matters of national 
concern were under discussion. It is too late now for any 
outline of this part of his life to be given. In general, 
however, it may be said that his efforts during this session 
were not inconsistent with those of his earlier course in the 
Assembly. Hence there is no need of reconstructing what 
has been written, or even of changing more than a single 
statement, and it is hoped that this explanation will satisfy 
those who might otherwise be astonished to find no mention 
of that part of Macon s career. 

The error, if such it may be called, is one which could 
not well be repaired as the first part of the book had 
already been printed. AUTHOR. 



SOURCES OF INFORMATION. 



1. Unpublished : The Macon Papers (a remnant of 
Macon s correspondence with Jefferson, Gallatin, 
Jackson and others); The Joseph H. Nicholson 
Papers ; Yancey Steele Correspondence ; Warren 
county records ; and the Jefferson and Monroe MSS. 
in State Department. 

2. Published documents and correspondence; 
North Carolina Colonial and State Records ; Annals of 
Congress ; Benton s Abridgment of Debates in Con 
gress ; North Carolina Laws ; Journals of North 
Carolina Assembly ; Writings of Thomas Jefferson 
(Ford); Life and correspondence of James Iredell 
(McKee); Works of Washington (Sparks); Works 
of Madison (Congress Edition); The Leven Powell 
Correspondence (Branch Papers); Debates of the 
North Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1835 ; 
Life and Correspondence of Gallatin (Adams). 

3. Newspapers and Periodicals : Raleigh Register ; 
Richmond Enquirer ; National Intelligencer; Ten 
nessee Democrat ; The Nation; American Historical 
Review; Southern History Publications; William and 
Mary College Quarterly; Annual Register; The Sprunt 
Monographs. 

4. General and special accounts : Meade : Old 
Churches and Parishes ; Wheeler : History of North 
Carolina ; Gotten : Life of Nathaniel Macon ; Moore: 
History of North Carolina ; Fiske : Critical Period 
of American History ; Schouler : History of the 
United States ; Johnson : Life of Nathaniel Greene ; 
Thomas : Character Sketches ; Hudson : Journalism 
in the United States ; Schenck : North Carolina, 
1780 8 1 ; Hart: Formation of the Union ; Garland: 
Life of John Randolph ; Schurz : Life of Henry 
Clay; Peele : Distinguished North Carolinians; 
Channing : History of the United States. 




LIFE OF NATHANIEL MACON. 



CHAPTER I. 
THE MACON FAMILY. 

The Macon family originated in France, in the 
Saone-Loire country. A certain "J useran d de Ma- 
con" was knighted there, we are told, in the year 
1321; L,ouis de Macon and Gabriel, his son, bore 
the title "de" and were masters of considerable 
estates. But just where they lived and what their 
connection with the American Macons was, are 
questions which can not be answered. There was 
a French Huguenot of some means who settled at 
Middle Plantation, in Virginia, in the second half 
of the seventeenth century, and who was a promi 
nent tobacco planter and a vestryman in St. Peter s 
parish, New Kent county, in the year I68O. 1 This 
was Gideon Macon, and his estate, Prospect Hill, is 
still regarded as one of the fine old landmarks of 
Eastern Virginia. The second owner of Prospect 
Hill was William Macon, born 1693, likewise a ves 
tryman in the same parish and colonel of the New 
Kent militia about the middle of the next century. 
Martha, a sister of this Colonel Macon, married 
Orlando Jones, and a granddaughter of this union, 
Miss Martha Dandridge, became the wife of John 
Parke Custis. Mrs. Custis was early left a widow, 
and a wealthy widow, who, as all the world knows, 
became Martha Washington. 2 There were many 

1 Meade: Old Churches and Parishes, I., 387. 

2 William and Mary College Quarterly, July, 1897. 

2 



2 NATHANIEL MACON. 

Macons in Virginia about the middle of the eigh 
teenth century, and many of them were connected 
with the most prominent families in the colony. 
Henry Macon, of Goochland, was one of these ; and 
Thomas Macon, a brother-in-law of James Madi 
son, of Orange, was another. 

Gideon Macon, brother to William of Prospect 
Hill, 1 emigrated to upper North Carolina in the 
early thirties of the eighteenth century, and "took 
up lands" on Shocco Creek within the domains of the 
Earl of Granville. About the same time Philemon 
Hawkins and Edward Jones, of Gloucester county, 
Virginia adjoining New Kent settled in the 
Shocco neighborhood. 2 This was the beginning of 
a veritable "trek" of the East Virginians to North 
Carolina. The whole scope of country lying 
between the Roanoke and Neuse rivers, west of the 
Tarboro neighborhood, known in that day as "the 
Southside of Roanoke," was settled by Virginians, 
who found the lands of the older colony already 
worn out ! The Southside of Roanoke became Edge- 
combe county in 1741, and again the upper part of 
this section was made Bute county in 1760. The 
new court house was located near the Macon manor, 
that being the center of the- most influential part of 
the county. 

"Macon Manor," as the place is called to-day, 
was built by this first North Carolina Macon. In 
a short time, thanks to exemption from all disturb 
ance, to fertile soil and industrious hands, Gideon 
Macon became a prosperous tobacco grower. Hawk 
ins and Jones and many another followed the same 
occupation ; they opened a road to Petersburg, Vir 
ginia, where they journeyed once a year to sell their 

i This is not shown by the records, but the author is quite satisfied as 
to the correctness of the statement, 
a Wheeler s History of North Carolina, II., 426. 



THE MACON FAMILY. 3 

tobacco. The Macon manor was the first house in 
the new country which boasted the superior advan 
tage of glass windows, though Hawkins, just five 
miles away, was the wealthier man. None of the 
settlers, however, were possessed of very great 
wealth, as was to be expected, even as late as 1760. 
Most of them owned some five hundred to a thou 
sand acres of land and a half dozen to twenty 
negro slaves. They were good, loyal subjects of 
King George, rather disposed to follow his Majes 
ty s governors than the Eastern oligarchy, then so 
potent in North Carolina affairs. Hawkins actu 
ally rose to some rank as an official under Tryon, 
the best-hated of all our English governors. 

Gideon Macon s will, 1 probated in 1763, disposed, 
however, of three thousand acres of land and some 
twenty-five to thirty negroes. Priscilla Macon, 2 
widow of Gideon Macon, was made sole executrix of 
the estate and guardian of the Macon children. No 
complaint seems ever to have been made by any of 
the heirs concerning the administration of the prop 
erty proof enough of Mrs. Macon s ability, and of 
the relations which had prevailed between husband 
and wife. 

Nathaniel Macon, the sixth child of Gideon and 
Priscilla Macon, was born at Macon manor, Decem 
ber 17, 1758. He was only five years of age when 
his father died. Item three of the father s will 
reads as follows : " I give and bequeath to my 
son, Nathaniel Macon, all the remainder part of 
the above (Shocco tract), said tract of land lying 
and being on both sides of Shocco Creek, and above 
the said court house road. I likewise give to my 
said son five hundred acres of land lying and being 

i Warren County Records 

a Priscilla Macon afterwards married James Ransom, the ancestor of 
Matthew W. Ransom, United States Senator and Minister to Mexico. 



4 NATHANIEL MACON. 

on both sides of Hubquarter Creek (on Roanoke). 
I likewise give my said son my blacksmith s tools 
at the decease of my loving wife, Priscilla Macon. 
to him and his heirs forever. * * * I give 
and bequeath to my son, Nathaniel Macon, two 
negro boys, named George and Robb, and one ne 
gro girl, named Lucy, to him and his heirs forever." 1 
It was not a great legacy, not so much as Thomas 
Jefferson s 500 a year but a nucleus which, with 
his mother s careful management during the sixteen 
years of his minority, became no inconsiderable 
estate. 

In 1766, Mr. Charles Pettigrew, afterwards 
bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in North 
Carolina ancestor, too, of our great Confederate 
general of the same name , was engaged by Mrs. 
Macon and Philemon Hawkins to open a school near 
the court house, i. e., about half-way between the two 
estates. Pettigrew s school continued from 1766 to 
1773, and had for pupils John and Nathaniel Macon 
and Joseph and Benjamin Hawkins, three of whom 
showed the value of the school and the success of 
the teacher by becoming students at the "College of 
New Jersey" at Princeton. In 1773, Pettigrew was 
called to Edenton to become Principal of the Acad 
emy recently established there by the Legislature on 
the active and persistent recommendation of Samuel 
Johnston. 

It would be interesting to know what was taught 
in that pioneer school in the Shocco neighborhood, 
but no record remains except what is seen in the 
lives of the pupils, of which we shall see more as 
our subject grows. Pettigrew, though he was called 
to a broader and more promising field, never lost 
sight of the boys whom he had trained in his first 

1 Warren County Records. 



THE MACON FAMILY. 5 

school. He wrote in 1802 to Benjamin Hawkins, 
of Alabama: "Believe me, sir, the prosperity and 
respectability of any of my old pupils gives me the 
sincerest pleasure, and I am peculiarly happy to find 
that your old schoolmate, Macon, makes so respect 
able a figure in Congress." 1 

Whether Macon was regularly in school, whether 
he was a proficient, or whether he showed early 
signs of future distinction, neither Pettigrew nor 
Gotten, Macon s professed biographer, tells us. The 
one proof that the boy was ambitious, and there 
fore industrious, to some extent, at least, is shown 
in his early resolution to go to college, even under 
disadvantages. Gotten, whose business it was pri 
marily to tell about this, fills his pages with gen 
eral and impossible compliments to the paragon 
of a youth who "manifested at an early period 
of life a curiosity incessantly engaged in pur 
suing enquiries and accumulating a knowledge 
which, to common observers, might have frequently 
appeared to be an obstinate, self-willed principle of 
mind, wasting itself in unprofitable speculations and 
refusing to bring its energies to bear upon a pur 
suit pointed out by another." Again, Macon "com 
pressed more experience in a given time, when a 
youth, than any of his ordinary associates he con 
temned the absurdities of youth," but was "diffident, 
self-suspicious, modest." This last named we are 
assured may "rightly be classed as an early and cer 
tain trait of Macon s character" ; and, in truth, he 
was never over-conscious of his own importance, 
not even when he was undisputed leader in North 
Carolina and Speaker of the House of Representa 
tives in Congress. He seems to have been, if Cot- 
ten s statements may be accepted at all, frank, high- 

* Charles Pettigrew to Benjamin Hawkins. 



6 NATHANIEL MACON. 

toned, self-possessed, even in early life a sort of 
man-boy, the youngster who sat with grown-up 
people on long Sunday evenings and talked of 
crops and negroes and politics, instead of swim 
ming in some forbidden mill pond or stealing water 
melons, as occasion offered; not just the boy we 
should admire, no matter how much his soberness and 
premature judgment promised as to the future. He 
never yielded to temptation, though he early learned 
to drink great gourdfuls of whiskey; never knew 
vice, though his "brother John" was the greatest 
scape-grace in the county ; and never, like Jefferson, 
wrote sickly love epistles to country lasses. An 
analytical turn of mind he certainly must have mani 
fested, a disposition to subject everything to logical 
inquiry, to indulge, too, in paradox and unexpected 
questionings. Though his mind was well balanced 
and capable of giving good judgments, even when 
a boy, he was often prone to substitute the smaller 
for the greater aspects of life. 



CHAPTER II. 

AT 



A great deal has been said about Macon s difficulty 
in procuring means for the completion of his educa 
tion, about the contributions of neighbors to his sup 
port, the indifference of his parents to his ambition, 
and, as is usual in such cases, most of it entirely 
without foundation. In 1774 he was only fifteen 
years old, and just out of Pettigrew s school, 
which had been closed for want of a teacher; 
he was heir to a very respectable estate, and 
was the most promising son^ in a well-to-do fam 
ily. Now a boy of fifteen is not apt to be con 
ducting a campaign against poverty and adverse 
circumstances in order to enter college, and cer 
tainly not a favorite in the second wealthiest family 
in his community. Macon s home was the best in 
the county, as it appears, and his parents were too 
proud, even had they been poor, to relish the idea of 
asking assistance in the education of their son by 
public or neighborhood charity. Besides, such 
assistance is entirely at variance with the character of 
Macon even as a boy. The whole story, invented 
by Gotten and Weldon N. Edwards, without further 
investigation seems to resolve itself into a myth, 
manufactured to suit their particular fancies. The 
situation was simply this : Macon s mother saw 
great promise in her boy, she believed in education, 
she had been instrumental in establishing the Petti- 
grew school ; two of Nathaniel s young friends, Ben- 



8 NATHANIEL MACON. 

jamin and Joseph Hawkins, were doing well at 
Princeton, as the college has later come to be desig 
nated. What could have been more natural than 
Macoirs desire to join his former schoolmates, and 
what more reasonable than for the mother to share 
her son s ambition and lend all the assistance neces 
sary? That some little difficulty arose about get 
ting together the means for such a course, and that 
the "going away to college" was a matter of some 
notoriety among the neighbors in that simple coun 
try-side is but natural. As Gotten has told us, 
there may have been a farewell gathering and well- 
wishing, for a journey to New Jersey was almost 
equal to a trip to Europe. 

And the College of New Jersey, not William and 
Mary, was chosen. All the boys who went to col 
lege from Bute county in those days, and most of 
those from North Carolina, went to Princeton as 
did many of the Virginians Martin, the later poet- 
governor of North Carolina, and Madison and Mon 
roe being examples. During the years immediately 
preceding the Revolution, and for many years after, 
there were three courses open to a young Southerner 
who desired a higher education. First and most 
desirable of all, it was to "go home" to England and 
spend four years at Oxford or Cambridge, finally 
completing the professional part of his training at 
one of the great law schools in London, or at the 
medical school of the University of Edinburgh. And 
this was not uncommon even with people of modest 
fortunes. The colonies were closer to England than 
"the States" ever have been, and any merchant s 
ship that laid in its cargo of tobacco on the James, 
or the Potomac, or of lumber and naval stores on the 
Neuse or Cape Fear, was only too glad to take on 
board a sprightly young man to make good cheer on 



AT COLLEGE. 9 



the long meandering voyage across the Atlantic. It 
was nothing strange in the Northern Neck of Vir 
ginia, nor on the streets of colonial Hdenton, to 
meet people who had spent years abroad men lived 
in America then in order to return home to enjoy 
their new-won fortunes. These young men, ordi 
narily sons of the wealthier families, returned after 
a stay of four to six years as thoroughly English as 
had been their fathers when first they set foot on 
American shores. They were gentlemen in all that 
an Englishman considered necessary to such a 
character, and destined to take a lead by natural 
right, almost, in the affairs of the colonies Second, 
the less wealthy, and Episcopalians generally, patron 
ized William and Mary, and afterwards took law 
under Wythe or one of the Randolphs Jefferson 
and Marshall are notable examples of these. Third, 
the Dissenters "the sects," as they were persistently 
called sent their sons to the College of New Jersey 
to enjoy the direction and instruction of Doctor 
Witherspoon, whose name and work were well 
known from Boston to Savannah. The Presbyte 
rians were, however, pioneers in education in the 
South; and the service they rendered the country 
in sending out young school teachers can not be 
over-estimated. 

Young Macon s career as a student at Princeton 
is a blank to us, the records of the college previous 
to 1787 having been destroyed, and none of Macon s 
letters referring to that period of his life having been 
preserved. What the institution was, we may judge 
from Philip Fithian s most interesting diary, and 
the letters of Burr, Monroe and others. It was a 
good Presbyterian seminary, chiefly theological 
the hot-bed of strictly Calvinistic tenets. Its aca 
demic curriculum was about equivalent to a first- 



10 NATHANIEL MACON. 

rate academy of our time. Latin and Greek and 
Mathematics constituted the trinity of liberal culture 
everywhere in the latter years of the eighteenth cen 
tury. French was taught, of course, somewhat for 
the same reasons that all our colleges are teaching 
Spanish now. Macon s friend and college mate, 
Benjamin Hawkins, became such a proficient in that 
language that good Doctor Witherspoon recom 
mended him to Washington for a position on his 
staff as interpreter of French, and that, too, before 
Hawkins had completed the course. 1 In fact, the 
tongue of the Parisians was much more commonly 
understood in America then than it has ever been 
since. Burr and Hamilton, without ever having 
crossed the seas, spoke French as fluently as they 
did their own language. But Macon did not learn 
French, nor Latin to any great degree of proficiency, 
though he was able afterwards to take up the study 
of law. Something of Latin he did know, as is evi 
denced occasionally in his correspondence of later 
years. His education, contrary to the general opin 
ion, was good not broad, but substantial, sufficient 
for entrance upon the study of any of the profes 
sions. It has been repeatedly asserted that he was 
illiterate, that he could not write English correctly. 
This is not true, though it can not be claimed that 
he wrote with ease and fluency. His letters are 
generally short and pithy, and sometimes the senten 
ces are carelessly constructed; but the reading of 
some two hundred of them, covering the whole 
period of his life, will confirm one in the belief that 
his training at the country school of Bute and at 
Princeton was thorough and extensive, considering 
the short duration of those terms of academic drill. 
Fewer orthographical errors occur in his writings 

* Ufe of Hawkins in Wheeler s History of North Carolina, II., 427. 



AT COLLEGE. 11 

than in a similar amount of Jefferson s, and on 
such comparisons is based the argument that Macon 
was almost illiterate. 

In the summer of 1776, Macon joined a company 
of New Jersey militia a sort of local guard, it 
appears and served "a tour," he tells us on the mar 
gin of a letter he wrote the North Carolina Assem- 
.bly in 1828. What he did, and where those college 
volunteers were sent, has not been ascertained. The 
war soon absorbed all interest and attention, and the 
college was closed, its students either returning 
home or joining the feeble forces of Washington. It 
was in that sad summer and autumn, when the 
American army was more formidable to its com 
mander than to Clinton and the British, when militia 
companies were flying hither and thither to suit their 
own fickle fancies, that our hero, now seventeen 
years old, took up his journey southward. Hawk 
ins, his friend, had joined the army, and was begin 
ning to make a career for himself. There was 
utmost need for Macon in the North; many of his 
fellow Carolinians were in the Continental army, and 
surely there was no immediate danger threatening 
his native State. He returned, notwithstanding, to 
the quiet country court house to take up the study of 
law, like many another of our Revolutionary leaders. 
His college days were over closed perforce; what 
he had received has been discussed and estimated. 
It had not made an American of him, as is shown by 
his return to his home when America was most in 
need of his services. He was primarily a citizen of 
his State, as was everyone else in this country in 
1776, and many years after. 

Under whom Macon studied law, and with what 
success, like many other points in his biogra 
phy, we are unable to determine. His own state- 



12 NATHANIEL MACON. 

ments in later life, and the testimony of tradition, 
show that he spent the years 1777-1780 in reading 
law and English history under the direction of some 
one living at Bute Court House. But Macon never 
practiced law, nor even acquired the lawyer s point 
of view in politics or personal affairs. He was 
unquestionably as much a tobacco planter as a stu 
dent, even in his years of study. 



CHAPTER III. 

NORTH CAROLINA DURING THE REVOLUTION. 

Whatever may be said of North Carolina s devo 
tion to the cause of the Confederacy in 1860-1865 
and no people ever sacrificed more it can not be 
said that it gave general and heroic support to the 
cause of Independence. No state acted other than 
a selfish role in that, our first war. It was not a 
nation s struggle, but that of a large faction of a 
nascent nation a war waged by fits and starts, and 
won by the greatness and heroism of one man. 
Foreign students of American history are not 
far wrong when they say that Washington was 
the only great, heroic figure in all that seven 
years drama of Liberty. No comparison can be 
made between the behavior of our fathers in 1776 
and the people of Holland in the sixteenth century, 
where a whole people rose in arms and continued in 
arms during the lifetime of three generations, paying 
half of their total incomes into the coffers of the 
state. In America it was the self-sacrifice and coop 
eration of a few far-seeing individuals that gained 
the struggle. The people remained at home, and 
systematic taxation was almost unknown. Macon 
was one of these people, and the motives which kept 
him quietly studying law at Bute Court House dur 
ing the years 1777-1780, were the same which kept 
most other North Carolinians at home, the same 
which prompted the Connecticut militia to go troop- 



14 NATHANIEL MACON. 

ing back to their farms when Washington s army 
crossed the Hudson in 1776. 

At the outbreak of the Revolution, however, North 
Carolina, like most of the other states, was aroused 
to an extraordinary degree of enthusiasm. The 
Royal Governor, Josiah Martin, was supplanted at 
once, as many another had been in the history of the 
colony ; a new government was speedily set up, and 
within twelve months ten thousand troops were 
enlisted and actually in service, some in Virginia, 
others in South Carolina, and several regiments in 
the Continental army at the North. Great zeal for 
the popular cause was manifested; elections were 
held every six months, and when the Provincial Con 
gress assembled at Halifax in 1776, not a member 
was absent. There were then in North Carolina 
three hundred thousand inhabitants, which would 
give a fighting population of sixty thousand, reck 
oned on the basis of one to five, the ratio of 
Prussia in the wars of Frederick the Great. Ten 
thousand volunteers was a creditable contribu 
tion to the general cause ; but it did not represent, by 
any means, the military strength of the new gov 
ernment, and this was when the country was ablaze 
with patriotic enthusiasm. 1 The following year 
the ardor of the people was cooling, and in 1778 
the total number of privates in Washington s army 
from North Carolina was nine hundred ; of officers, 
there were five hundred and fifty, all unwilling to 
serve regularly except in their full rank ! At home, 
James Iredell gave up, this year, a Superior Court 
Judgship because the emoluments were insufficient; 
Samuel Johnston, his brother-in-law, refused to 
serve as State Treasurer, though he admitted the 

i It is worth noting here that during the Civil War Ijastern and Cen 
tral North Carolina furnished one soldier to every six inhabitants. 



DURING THE REVOLUTION. 15 

emoluments were ample enough. William Hooper, 
too, resigned his seat in the Continental Congress. 
Wise and wealthy men thought it too dangerous to 
be over-zealous on either side. 

In order to fill the vacancies in the ranks of the 
North Carolina regiments the Continental Congress 
offered bounties of one hundred dollars each for vol 
unteers, but without success; then the State was 
called on to fill up her quota, and twenty-six hundred 
and forty men were ordered to be drafted from the 
militia for terms of nine months, with the promise 
of exemption from further service during a period 
of three years, and, in addition, a bounty of fifty dol 
lars from the State was guaranteed each man. All 
these rewards were designed to make the drafting 
less odious, and to encourage faithful service at 
least for the short term. The increase in the number 
of North Carolinians in the national service as a 
result of these recruiting measures was, by the end 
of the year, four hundred men and officers ! Several 
additional companies were, however, finally raised, 
and were, during the autumn of 1778, encamped at 
Salisbury, Hillsboro and one or two other points; 
but, when Congress failed to send its promised boun 
ties promptly, most of the tioops returned to their 
homes on furlough a semblance of discipline this 
last. In 1779, after the news of Saratoga and of the 
French alliance had permeated the State, this same 
indifference continued. During the spring and 
summer of that year an effort was made to send a 
strong force into South Carolina for the relief of 
Savannah. General Sumner, of Warren, the ranking 
general in North Carolina, was put in command. 
Seven hundred and fifty-seven men joined him, of 
whom four hundred and twenty-one were on 
hand when it came to an actual engagement! 



16 NATHANIEL MACON. 

On April 10, the nine-months term of the men 
expired, and, notwithstanding the great needs of 
the situation and the urgent entreaties of their 
commanders to re-enlist, every man, we are told, 
set out for his home. This kind of service con 
tinued unimproved until I78O. 1 But it was not 
worse in North Carolina than in New York and 
New Jersey during the same years. The Pennsyl 
vania farmers fought in the same way. These 
healthy and wealthy Germans, with their neighbors, 
listened carefully for news from Washington s army, 
and when it appeared that the Americans were about 
to win a speedy success, they set out in troops for the 
front; but if bad news met them on the way, they 
disappeared, like prairie dogs, among their native 
hills. 2 But the principal cause of this supine 
support of the great national movement on the part 
of North Carolina was the neutralization of the 
forces f the patriots : ( I ) By the effects of the 
War of Regulation in 1769-1771 ; (2) by the pres 
ence of large numbers of Scotch Royalists in the 
middle and upper Cape Fear regions; (3) by the 
opponents of democratic government, i. e., by the 
influence of the determined minority in the assem 
blies, led by Hooper, Johnston, Iredell and others. 

i. The War of Regulation was the result of, 
unjust taxation and oppressive methods of collecting 
the same. The East, wealthy and populous, was 
divided into plantations which were cultivated by 
negro slaves ; the West, poor, and also populous, was 
composed of small farms whose owners did all their 
own work, receiving for their produce very small 

* N. C. State Records, XIII, and XIV, prefatory notes. The state 
ments made above are borne out by numberless documents all through 
these volumes. 

2 Letters of David Griffith to I,even Powell, Randolph- Macon Histori 
cal Papers, 1901. 



DURING THE REVOLUTION. 17 

incomes after the great expense of carrying it to dis 
tant markets was deducted. The East was an oli 
garchy; the West a democracy. The two sections 
could not easily have been brought to live peaceably 
together under the most beneficent laws; so much 
the worse when the Hast persisted in domineering 
and exploiting the West. The ancient method for 
raising the revenue for the expenses of the province 
had been by levying a uniform poll tax. As the dif 
ference between the two sections of the province 
became greater, the more unjust did this method 
of taxation appear. The West, after years of peti 
tion and complaint, raised the standard of revolt in 
1769. This first opposition to the East was compro 
mised and apparently settled by the shrewd and able 
Governor Tryon. But when conditions grew stead 
ily worse, and to injustice was added systematic 
extortion, the revolt broke out afresh in 1771, with 
three thousand men in arms. Tryon called on the 
Eastern counties for sufficient quotas of troops, which 
were cheerfully granted. June 16, 1771, the Gov 
ernor, with most of the great plantation owners 
as his lieutenants, completely defeated and routed 
the Regulators. Speedy and bloody execution was 
administered to the more important leaders who 
could be apprehended. An iron-clad oath was 
forced upon the people of the disaffected district, 
which included Orange, Guilford and parts of 
Rowan and Granville counties a population of at 
least twenty thousand souls. The East triumphed 
over the West. When the Revolution broke out, these 
people, bound by most solemn oaths and smarting 
under the injustice of recent proceedings, remained, 
most of them, neutral; and some actually enlisted 
under the Royal standard. This neutralized a large 
section of the state ; and it is not difficult to under- 



18 NATHANIEL MACON. 

stand when it is remembered that the same men who 
commanded in Tryon s army in 1771 were command 
ing divisions in the patriot army in I776. 1 

2. The defeat of the Scots in 1715 began the 
migration of that sturdy race to North Carolina ; but 
the final overthrow of their armies at Culloden in 
1746 broke forever the spirit of revolt and sent 
thousands in quest of new homes in the West. 
Large numbers of these settled in the Cape Fear 
regions of North Carolina. They had all taken a 
specially stringent oath of allegiance to the House of 
Hanover, either before they set out for America or 
before they were granted lands in North Carolina. 
The Scotch were royalists, and had suffered untold 
miseries in the defence of the rights of the Stuarts. 
Their cause was hopelessly lost, and they accepted 
the Hanovers, it seems, in good faith on condition of 
oblivion of the past and the possession of lands in 
their adopted country. They occupied Cumberland 
(significant name for the Scotch) and neighboring 
counties, embracing most of the lands lying between 
Bladen and Rowan counties, and extending south 
ward to the borders of South Carolina. When Gov 
ernor Martin was expelled from the state and pro 
claimed, like King James II. in 1688, "abdicated/ 5 
the Scotch made Martin s cause their own, as their 
ancestors had done for the House of Stuart. Wheeler 
tries to prove them good patriots by producing an 
intensely revolutionary document signed by leading 
citizens of Cumberland; but a glance at the signa 
tures discovers not a single "Mac," nor a Campbell, 
which disproves the proof. February 27, 1776, it 
came to a pitched battle at Moore s Creek bridge, 

i Best short aorount of the Regulators War yet published is that by 
Colonel Sounder* Li his Prefatory Notes to the North Carolina Colonial 
Records, vol. VJII Mr. Marshall DeLancey Haywood has just pub 
lished a. fuller account ol this movement in his excellent life of Gov 
ernor Tryon. 



DURING THE REVOLUTION. 19 

some miles below Fayetteville, or Campbelltown, 
between the Whigs and the Scotch. Two thousand 
Highlanders, as they were still termed, were over 
whelmed by an inferior force of Whigs. The vic 
tory was so complete, and the tide of Whig enthu 
siasm throughout the East and North so strong, 
that no more attempts were made by the Scotch to 
assist the Royal cause for a long time to come. 
There were, too, in their midst so many older set 
tlers who sided with- the Revolutionists that any gen 
eral movement was very difficult. Nevertheless, the 
presence of so many staunch friends of the House 
of Hanover neutralized a large amount of the 
state s strength, and this the more completely since 
the disaffected region was contiguous to that of the 
humiliated Regulators and to the Tory counties of 
South Carolina. 

3. A very respectable party of the Whigs, who 
had assisted the American national movement in its 
beginning, when petitioning for redress of griev 
ances was the avowed object of organized opposi 
tion, was alienated when men began to speak of 
independence and a democratic republic, or a num 
ber of republics. Many of the most prominent and 
best educated people of upper Eastern North Caro 
lina, with Samuel Johnston as their leader, either 
secretly advocated continued obedience to England, 
or openly demanded the enactment of the most con 
servative measures. A similar party existed in and 
about Wilmington, with William Hooper as leader, 
which was the ground for Jefferson s later declara 
tion that Hooper was a great Tory, and of course it 
was known that all Hooper s family publicly sup 
ported the Royal cause. These conservatives were 
strong enough to name the representatives to the 
Continental Congress during the earlier years of the 



20 NATHANIEL MACON. 

war Hooper being the leader of the delegation; 
rather, the Patriots made this concession in the hope 
of winning their support and influence. Johnston s 
defeat in his plan of controlling the Hillsboro Con 
vention, and his more open defeat in Chowan for a 
seat in the Halifax Convention, so disappointed him 
that he became from that time on what would be 
called in modern slang a "disgruntled politician," 
and was continually growling and complaining in 
his retirement at every step taken by the dominant 
party. He refused to meet concessions made to him 
in the form of the most lucrative office in the gift of 
the government. 1 What Johnston thought, thought 
also a numerous party of family and political connec 
tions living in all parts of the state. Now, as has 
been said, the Revolutionary War was pre-eminently 
a war of leaders, the popular enthusiasm seldom ex 
tending beyond state lines, and with several wealthy, 
educated and able men leading a positive opposition 
to the main measures of the new government, or 
even a passive opposition, which no one will dis 
pute, at that critical juncture of our political devel 
opment, it was well-nigh impossible to enforce ener 
getic plans. 

These influences a half-spiteful neutrality or an 
open opposition on the part of the Regulators, posi 
tive and organized support of the British cause by 
the Scotch, and the paralyzing influence of luke 
warm leaders combined with intensely local patriot 
ism, were the causes of the almost shameful lethargy 
of North Carolina during the long period of 1777 
to 1780. 

Geographically considered, the Patriots had actual 
control of but a small portion of North Carolina 
the Southside of Roanoke, *. e., a section of country 

i See page 14. 



DURING THE REVOLUTION. 21 

containing a population of some seventy to eighty 
thousand people. Bute, its central county, boasted 
that it had not a Tory within its borders. The upper 
Cape Fear and the Regulator country to the neigh 
borhood of Guilford Court House was the scene of 
almost constant civil strife during most of the Revo 
lutionary War. This cut off from actual coopera 
tion with the northern part of the state the bold 
Mecklenburgers and the Catawba backwoodsmen. 
South Carolina, too, was the home of disaffection, 
and being contiguous to the Royalist counties of 
North Carolina, the strength of the Tories was much 
increased. 

It was to such a state that Nathaniel Macon 
returned in the autumn of 1776 to prepare himself 
further for a public career. In December following, 
his brother John became a captain of a company of 
Regulars, and marched away to join Washington. 
General Sumner, next-door neighbor to the Macons, 
was a commander in the Continental service. Ma- 
con s native county, we have seen, was the strong 
hold of the Whigs. In 1778, when such urgent 
appeals were being made for more troops to fill up 
the depleted ranks of North Carolina s Continental 
regiments, when bounties were offered for enlisting, 
when numbers of his fellow-countrymen were 
drafted into the service, when, early in 1779, South 
Carolina was being threatened and General Sumner 
marched away to Savannah with a meagre seven 
hundred and fifty troops, Macon kept his resolution 
and remained quiet at home, pursuing his studies. 1 
An explanation of his not volunteering into the 
service of the cause, to which he was uncompro 
misingly attached, might be offered in that he did 

i Better to Joseph H. Nicholson, August 6, 1803; Gotten s Life of Ma 
con, 37. 



22 NATHANIEL MACON. 

not care to serve as a private soldier, and that there 
was already a superabundance of officers, as the 
example of John s return in 1778 from Valley Forge 
shows ; but his future service as a private soldier 
contradicts this. Those who claim Macon to have 
been a demagogue his whole life long would say he, 
like many others during those years, was waiting to 
see how things were going to turn, and then join the 
winning side. But here again future developments 
contradict. In 1780, when he did take active part in 
political and military affairs, he was chosen, without 
his previous knowledge, and before he was twenty- 
one years old, a member of the General Assembly, 
and of the Senate at that. Thus it is seen that the 
foundation of his popularity was laid during those 
years of study at home, and certainly a time-server, 
or one of doubtful loyalty, could not have been 
elected to any position of honor or trust in Warren 
county. (The name had been changed in 1779.) 
To the author, his intense local patriotism, his 
incomplete education, his youth, and the absence of 
any really threatening danger to North Carolina, is 
explanation enough. And, moreover, many others 
were following a similar course notably, James 
Monroe, who had retired from the position of cap 
tain in the regular army to take up the study of law 
under Thomas Jefferson. 

Benjamin Hawkins, too, was living quietly at 
home since March or April, 1778 more than likely 
he had returned with John Macon and for similar 
reasons. 



CHAPTER IV. 

IN THE; ARMY AGAIN. 

The disastrous attempt of D Estiang and Lincoln 
on Savannah, October 9, 1777; the siege of Charles 
ton and the rising of the Royalists in large numbers 
in Cumberland, Anson, Moore and Tryon counties, 
turned the earnest attention of all to the South. 
Seven hundred Virginians under Buford, three hun 
dred under Porterfield, and seven hundred North 
Carolina militia under William Caswell were hurry 
ing on to Charleston. Buford and Caswell united 
their forces in upper South Carolina, but on hearing 
of the fall of Charleston, May 12, 1780, thej divided 
their commands. Caswell set out for Cross Creek, 
there to overawe the eight hundred Tories collecting 
in the neighborhood ; Buford marched toward Char 
lotte, but was surprised by a strong force of British 
under Tarleton and utterly ruined. Porterfield went 
into camp at Salisbury, awaiting orders after the 
sad news of Charleston. These reverses heartened 
the loyalists in all sections ; in the vicinity of Camp- 
belltown, where Caswell s seven hundred men had 
dwindled down to less than four hundred, the 
enlisting of Royalists could not be prevented; Col. 
John Moore, a bold Tory of the extreme West, was 
collecting a force of some thirteen hundred men in 
Tryon county; in Moore, Guilford and Anson 
counties, the Whigs were driven from their homes 
and kept in the forests by bands of marauders, and, 
in the face of all this, the militia of Chowan and 



24 NATHANIEL MACON. 

neighboring counties, refusing to march until their 
bounties were paid, took to the swamps and defied 
the power of the state. On the borders of Johnston, 
Edgecombe and Nash counties, robbers and desert 
ers formed associations to prevent the drafting of 
men for the regular army, and inaugurated such a 
reign of lawlessness that it became necessary to 
send troops for their subjugation. In the far West, 
the Indians, too, were assuming a threatening atti 
tude. 1 

To meet the invasion of Cornwallis from the 
south ; to check the rising tide of anarchy at home ; to 
guard the western frontiers against the Indians, the 
Assembly passed measures sweeping enough, as 
usual, but there was poor means of enforcing them. 
Richard Caswell was made Commander-in-Chief of 
the North Carolina militia, with instructions to 
begin again the raising of the four thousand troops 
"ordered" forward to the assistance of Lincoln at 
Charleston. Porterfield was still at Salisbury; Ste 
vens was coming on from Richmond with seven hun 
dred additional Virginians ; Baron von Kalbe had 
two thousand Maryland and Delaware Regulars at 
Hillsboro; and Rutherford, a bold western com 
mander, was strengthening himself in the neighbor 
hood of Charlotte. This formidable array had its 
influence in bringing the militia into service, and in 
counteracting the schemes of the loyalists. During 
this second season of enthusiasm, and before the fall 
of Charleston, a company was made up in Warren 
County, which Nathaniel Macon joined as a volun 
teer without accepting the proffered bounty of 
one hundred and fifty dollars. He was elected lieu 
tenant, but this he also declined, preferring to serve 
as a private in the ranks. John Macon, then a 

i N. C. State Records, XIV., prefatory notes by Judge Clark. 



IN THE ARMY AGAIN. 25 

prominent member of the General Assembly for 
Warren county/ was made Captain, a suitable 
choice, for he had served two years at the beginning 
of the war as a captain in the Regular army, and 
had been with Washington in the New Jersey cam 
paigns and at Valley Forge. 2 This new com 
pany became a part of a regiment made up of 
similar companies from Nash, Northampton, Hali 
fax and Edgecombe counties, and was put under the 
command of Benjamin Seawell. Each company 
marched to the plantation of a certain William Betts, 
in Wake County, as a place of rendezvous. At this 
place the soldiers were to receive their bounties and 
the regiment was to be organized; but the govern 
ment did not meet its obligations, and the men were 
about to return to their homes. Seawell wrote the 
Governor that his soldiers were good as could be 
found, but that they would never cross the borders 
of the State unless they were paid. 3 Seawell was 
to have joined Simmer, who was returning from 
South Carolina with a small command of North 
Carolina troops, somewhere to the south of Hills- 
boro. This mutiny of the whole Halifax regiment 
was threatening to affect seriously the plans of 
attack, and Cornwallis was approaching. Tt was now 
late in July. How the difficulties were settled we 
are not told, but some satisfactory plan was 
arranged, so that Seawell s regiment marched on 
toward the South. 

General Horatio Gates, whose star had been shin 
ing so brightly since the victory at Saratoga, was 
appointed to the chief command of the Southern 
department, to succeed Lincoln. He arrived at the 

* N. C. State Records, XIII., Journals of the Assembly. 

2 N. C. State Records, XIII., 42. 

3 N. C. State Records, XV., 8. 



26 NATHANIEL MACON. 

camp of von Kalbe, on Deep River, July 19, where 
the latter was drilling his regiments of Continentals, 
where de Armond s legion had just arrived; and 
where three companies of artillery had fjeen sent 
by the government. Against the advice of von Kalbe, 
who had been in the neighborhood some months, and 
who knew well the field of operations, Gates marched 
directly toward Camden, where Cornwallis was col 
lecting his detachments, waiting for the crops to be 
gathered in, and attracting to him what Royalists 
could escape the vigilance of Caswell and Ruther 
ford. Soon after the army marched southward it 
was reinforced by Porterfield s three hundred Vir 
ginians, Caswell s new levies of militia, Steven s bri 
gade of Virginians, and by Sumner s men, strength 
ened by the Halifax regiment under Seawell alto 
gether four thousand, five hundred men. Not far 
away, and subject to Gates command, was Davie, 
with three hundred as good men as could be found ; 
Rutherford s troop of fifteen hundred, flushed with 
a magnificent victory over the Royalists, was at 
Ramsour s Mill ; Davidson, with some hundred and 
fifty men at least, and Sumpter, with eight hundred 
followers, were not far southward. Marion and 
Harrington were guarding the Tories toward the 
east and along Cape Fear, while Smallwood and 
Butler were doing the same on the Yadkin. Without 
taking into account these last-named forces, which 
were keeping the peace in the above-named disaf 
fected regions, Gates could have brought into close 
cooperation six thousand, five hundred soldiers, most 
of whom had seen active service, and who were led by 
men of experience, acquainted with the country, and 
who enjoyed the absolute confidence of their follow 
ers. It was an opportunity not unlike that of Sara 
toga two years before: the militia were confident, 



IN THE ARMY AGAIN. 27 

their homes were about to be invaded, and there was 
a large population ready to resist to the last extrem 
ity the encroachment of the enemy. On the side of 
the enemy, everything was unfavorable, almost as 
much so as with Burgoyne, when the farmers of the 
New Hampshire and Vermont hills fell upon him 
with such disastrous effect. Cornwallis whole army 
amounted to two thousand, five hundred men, five 
hundred of whom were Tory militia; the country 
was unknown to its leaders ; the climate was 
extremely oppressive ; large numbers of the soldiers 
had to be sent each day to the hospital in the rear, 
and the Royalist uprising, which had been calculated 
upon so confidently, was not succeeding. The one 
real difficulty with which Gates contended was scar 
city of supplies, the difficulty which seems to have 
caused him to hasten on to Camden through the 
almost barren pine forests in order to gain time and 
to attack the enemy before his provisions were 
exhausted. He overrated the danger of scarcity of 
provisions, and seems never once to have thought of 
the difficulties with which his adversary was con 
tending. Gates hastened towards the enemy s camp 
in the hope of taking Cornwallis by surprise, and in 
stead of making sure of the position of his reinforce 
ments, he left them uninformed of the whereabouts 
of the American army. On August 16, at early 
dawn, the two armies met, and the Americans, who 
outnumbered the English two to one, were scattered 
like chaff before a gust of wind. Half of the men 
never so much as fired their guns. Gates was soon 
riding in all haste toward Hillsboro, as much fright 
ened as any of his men. Sumner alone appears to 
have kept his head, and maintained something like 
order among his troops after the day was lost: he 
collected what remnants could be found of the scat- 



28 NATHANIEX MACON. 

tered commands, and attempted to bring off some 
of the supplies. 1 

Not a word has been found anywhere to show 
what share Macon had in the battle of Camden. He 
was, however, in Seawall s regiment which had 
united with Sumner before the catastrophe, and so 
he was present during the fight and did not run 
away precipitately, as did most others. Benton 
in his Thirty Years View 2 says Macon was 
at Camden ; but he also says he was at the fall of 
Charleston, when Macon s own statement declares 
that he first enlisted May 10, 1780, only two 
days before the fall. Gotten says Macon was never 
in an active engagement during the war but at the 
same time adds 3 "that we are informed." The 
truth appears to be that he was at Camden with 
his company and retreated with Sumner on the fol 
lowing day towards Salisbury. 4 A report of Sep 
tember 3 shows that Colonel Seawell s Warren and 
Halifax companies were present. September 29th 
Sumner s army was in good spirits again and in 
camp on the Yadkin. Two thousand British occu 
pied Charlotte, while forage and recruiting expedi 
tions were scouring the country in all directions. 
Hardly a day passed without some skirmish or 
sharp fight between such commands as those of 
Davie, Cleveland, and McDowell, which, more often 
than otherwise, resulted in favor of the Americans. 5 
These small successes aided materially in rallying 
the scattered forces and in restoring discipline and 
confidence among the few remaining companies. 

* N. C. State Records. XV., 49-55 ; John W. Moore : History of North 
Carolina, I., 277-281; Washington Irving: Life of Washington, IV., 80-84. 

2 Thomas H. Benton : Thirty Years View, I., 114. 

3 See above, page 25. 

4 N. C. State Records, XV., 73. 

5 N. C. State Records, XV., 89. 



IN THE; ARMY AGAIN. 29 

The news of King s Mountain, October 10, restored 
completely the esprit de corps and prepared the way 
for General Greene, the new Commander-in-Chief 
of the Southern Army. 

While these untoward events had been happen 
ing, a new General Assembly had been elected ; 
Nathaniel Macon had been chosen to represent War 
ren county in the Senate for the year 1781. The 
summons of the Governor to attend the first session, 
which was to be held at Halifax in January, came 
and w^as read to the soldiers according to custom 
along with the orders of the commanding general; 
but Macon gave the subject no attention, preferring 
to remain in the ranks 1 . Finally, being called to 
the tent of the Commander-in-Chief to explain his 
action, Macon modestly announced that he had felt 
it a more pressing duty to remain in his present 
position. And well could this have appeared thus 
to him at a time when so many were discouraged, 
when the militia all over the State were refusing to 
serve on any terms, and when those already in the 
army were returning to their homes as fast as their 
terms expired. He was very popular as a soldier 
and it seems that he commanded an influence greater 
than most of the officers themselves, which made it 
the more imperative from his point of view for him 
to remain. Much has been said of this apparently 
eccentric behavior of Macon on the assumption that 
it was prompted by a mean motive for gaining 
popularity. He had volunteered without accepting 
the usual bounty, had refused an officer s rank when 
his company was organized ; and if we may believe 
reports, he had refused promotion again when Sea- 
well s regiment was mutinying in the neighborhood 
of Raleigh. Whether he had particular designs all 

* Thomas H. Bentoii : Thirty Years View, I., 114. 



30 NATHANIEL MACON. 

along could hardly be ascertained. There is no way 
to determine the motives of any public character but 
by his public acts, which in Macon s case, if taken 
from the beginning to the end of his career, seem as 
thoroughly consistent with unselfish patriotism as 
those of any of his contemporaries and as utterly 
without design so far as he himself was concerned. 
This behavior then in the camp on the Yadkin 
may and does appear eccentric as in many another 
instance of his later life ; but it was the result of the 
conviction that duty demanded his remaining in the 
army in preference to attending the legislature. 



CHAPTER V. 

IN THE: GENERAL ASSEMBLY, 1781-1785. 

Wheeler claims 1 in one place that Macon was first 
elected, while a private soldier in the army, to a seat 
in the Senate for the year 1781 and that without 
his knowledge or consent, and, in another, 2 he states 
that Macon was a member of the Senate from War 
ren county in 1780. Moore, too, claims that "he 
was first seen in a deliberative body in Newbern in 
April, I78o"; 3 and Cotton confidently declares 4 that 
"at the age of twenty-four years, whilst he was yet 
in the army his countrymen elected Mr. Macon a 
member of the legislature of his State without his 
solicitation or even his knowledge." Unfortunately 
the records of the Assembly for the year 1780 have 
been lost and we are left to decide the subject for 
ourselves. Wheeler in the first place asserts that 
the first election of Macon to the Assembly took 
place while he was in the army and we have Macon s 
own written statement 5 that he enlisted in the South 
ern Army May 12, 1780. This shows that if he was 
first elected while in the army he could not have been 
a member for 1780, since the elections were held in 
the summer and for the sessions of the Assembly 
for the succeeding year. But to illustrate how inac 
curate and untrustworthy North Carolina history 

1 History of North Carolina, II., 432. 

2 History of North Carolina, II., 441. 

3 History of North Carolina, I., 259. 

4 History of North Carolina, I., 48. 

5 Better to General Assembly, Nov. 14, 1828. 



32 NATHANIEL MACON. 

has been written, let us note the inconsistencies of 
statements on this subject: Wheeler has him 
"elected first while in the army," and further on 
makes him a member a year before that time ; Moore 
says, "he first appeared in a deliberative body in 
Newbern in April, 1780," adding, at the same time, 
that he was a private in one of the Continental regi 
ments and cites Wheeler as his authority, which 
citation proves Macon not to have been in Newbern 
at all ; Cotton says Macon was twenty-four years 
old at his first election, which took place in the pro 
verbial manner, namely, without his knowledge or 
consent and while he was in the army. The truth 
is Macon was not in Newbern, not a member of the 
Senate in 1780, and not twenty- four years old; but 
that he was first chosen, perhaps without his knowl 
edge, to represent his county in the State Senate in 
the summer of 1780 for the session of 1781 when he 
was away on that fateful Camden campaign, and 
when he was just twenty-one years old. 

Macon did not leave the camp on the Yadkin in 
time to attend the first session of the Assembly for 
1781, which met at Halifax January i8th; but he 
was present at the Wake Court House session in 
the following June, and from that time on till his 
retirement he and John Macon were prominent 
members of the legislature. June 26th, three days 
after the meeting of the Assembly, Nathaniel Macon 
of the Senate and John Macon of the House, with 
several others, were appointed a joint committee of 
both houses "to settle up the depreciation of money, 
etc." John Macon was made Chairman of this 
important committee. 1 This was the beginning of a 
reform movement, which was slow in being real 
ized on account of the infatuation of our ancestors 
for large emissions of paper money. 

i N. C. State Records, XVII., 812. 



IN THE GENERAI, ASSEMBLY. 33 

June 28th Nathaniel Macon was named a mem 
ber of a committee to prepare and bring in a bill 
for establishing courts of oyer and terminer. The 
merchants of Edenton petitioned this Assembly for 
relief from illegal impressment of produce for the 
Commissary Department of the army. Macon, 
as chairman of the committee to which the 
subject was referred, reported as follows: "The 
joint Committee of both houses appointed to take 
under Consideration a Memorial from the merchants 
of Edenton, setting forth that large quantities of 
Goods were impressed from them, do report that it 
is Your Committee s opinion that the impressment 
of Goods by General Warrants is unconstitutional, 
oppressive and destructive to Trade; and that it 
also appears to Your Committee that no demand or 
requisition has been made to the Owners of such 
Goods previous to the Impressment or Seizure 
thereof, which is illegal. And are further of the 
opinion that all Goods so impressed that can be 
conveniently spared 1 from the use of the Army, be 
immediately returned to the Owners from which 
such Goods have been impressed or seized." 2 Another 
joint committee was appointed June 28th, to inves 
tigate the conduct of public officials, especially those 
who had been entrusted with public monies and to 
bring in a bill requiring them to render regular 
accounts to and make settlement with the State. 
On this committee were associated with Macon 
Colonel Jesse Benton, of Hillsboro, father of Sena 
tor Benton, Thomas Person, of Granville, Charles 
Johnston, of Chowan, and others, most of whom 
w.ere prominent in the politics of the State. This 
committee reported a bill which met the require- 

1 The italics are the authors. 

2 N. C. State Records, XVII., 826. 

3 



34 NATHANIEL MACON. 

ments. From these records and from numberless 
others, which might be cited, it will be seen that 
Macon, though one of the youngest members, played 
a conspicuous part in the Assembly from the begin 
ning; and what is more significant, he was con 
stantly associated with reform men and measures. 
The chief object of his attention was the debased 
currency which he insisted should be remedied by a 
return to specie payments. 

The Assembly of 1781 was still controlled by the 
more democratic Whigs who had directed the affairs 
of the State since the struggle with Johnston and 
the Conservatives for supremacy in the Hillsboro 
Constitutional Convention of 1776; but the reverses 
of the past year, the increasing power of the Tories 
in the south central portion of the State and the 
almost universal lawlessness then prevailing had 
given the Conservatives a great increase of strength. 
The contest between parties came up every year in 
the election of Governor. Nash, who had been 
chosen in 1779, was not considered successful 
chiefly because misfortune had come while he was 
in office. The rule in North Carolina, as in Vir 
ginia, was to re-elect a Chief Magistrate giving 
him the limit of the Constitution as to duration of 
his term of service, i. e., three years. Nash was 
not re-elected by the Assembly of 1781 at its January 
meeting, but he was authorized to remain in office 
temporarily. Yet, according to English and American 
fashion, he was complimented for his great ability 
and devoted patriotism as a public servant. In the 
balloting for Governor at the end of Nash s first 
year Samuel Johnston was a candidate. Johnston 
was not chosen, but was elected a delegate to the 
Continental Congress, which latter office he accepted, 
contrary to his and his friend Hooper s previous 



IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY. 35 

practice. Benjamin Hawkins, who was leaning 
more and more toward the Conservatives, was also 
chosen a delegate to Congress 1 . This indicates the 
change of sentiment which began about this time. 

From a military point of view, the State was 
in a deplorable condition. Nash s message to the 
Assembly at its second session in June, which every 
one seeking to understand the policies and meas 
ures of the legislature of 1781 must read, reviews in 
a forcible manner the condition of affairs. He said 
in part : "Nothing could have induced me to call 
you together at so inconvenient and disagreeable a 
season of the year, but the most pressing necessity. 
* * * You will no doubt pay a proper attention 
to the present disordered condition of this unhappy 
State." He then reviews the loss at Camden and 
its result, adding: "We had drained the Treasury, 
which had never since been replenished sufficiently 
even for the ordinary expenses of Government, and 
what is still worse, Terror and Consternation, 
which on this unhappy occasion was spread through 
the Country, by the multitudes who fled from the 
Field of Battle, discouraged the friends of Govern 
ment in proportion as it gave new life and spirits to 
the disaffected" * * *. Then follows a recital 
of the withdrawal of power from the Governor and 
the vesting it first in a Board of War and later in 
General Richard Caswell, his rival, and the miserr 
able drafting practice. The message concluded: 
"In short, this kind of service, carried to the dis 
grace we have seen it of late years, is productive of 
every kind of evil Consequence. Public and Private 
Arms and Accoutrements are lost; Household and 
Husbandry Utensils, Horses and other things use 
ful to the farmer are wrested from the owner and 

* N. C. State Records, XVII., 858, 872. 



86 NATHANIEL MACON. 

never returned,* * *; the cultivation of land, 
so particularly necessary in time of War, is inter 
rupted and neglected." 1 Such a state of affairs had 
been enough to alarm the strongest, and it was 
not surprising that the Royalists were rising in all 
parts of the State, that the Revolutionary party was 
discouraged and that the Conservatives who had all 
along occupied the position of public critics, men 
accustomed to say "we told you so," but who, never 
theless, with a few exceptions, had held the first 
civil offices in the gift of the Assembly, who had 
drawn good salaries and never smelt the smoke of 
gun powder, were now gaining in influence and 
about to get control of the government. From 1776 
until after the battle of Camden, WilHc! Jones and 
his party of Democratic republicans, the northern 
section of the State, with counties here and 
there in the eastern and western sections coop 
erating, had controlled affairs in North Carolina 
and directed its policy in all things. But by way 
of conciliation, this dominant, positive party had 
kept continually in office most of the dissatisfied 
Conservatives the price that had to be paid for the 
loyalty of many of the wealthy Easterners. 

At the Wake Court House session the Democratic 
Republicans, or Whigs, maintained their position, 
but they felt the reins of power slipping from their 
hands more rapidly, as the military affairs grew 
more hopeless ; for the battle of Guilford Court 
House, which had taken place two months before, 
was not a source of encouragement to North Caro 
linians in that day as it has since become. It was 
not regarded as a victory, neither did the Governor 
nor Assembly thank Greene for his part in it. They 
did not expect Cornwallis to leave the State never 

i N. C. State Records, XVI , 881-882. 



IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY. 37 

to return, nor had any one the remotest idea that 
the victory at Yorktown was to be the result of 
Guilford Court House. 

The principal measures of the Assembly of 1781 
looked to the reform of the military organization, 
the suppression of disaffection, confiscation of the 
property of those who had committed themselves to 
the Royalist cause, reform of the currency, and cor 
rection of the abuse of power in office and even the 
improvements of the courts of common law. The 
military reforms were soon rendered unnecessary 
by the news of Cornwallis overthrow ; the finan 
cial situation had not improved, as may be seen 
from the following quotation from the journals of 
the House : "This House can not agree that any 
larger Sum be allowed the members of Assembly, 
more than Five Hundred Dollars per day for going 
to, continuing at and in returning" from the session 
which was to have been held at Newbern in April 
last; Five Hundred Dollars per day for coming to 
and returning from the present session and Two 
Hundred and Fifty Dollars per day for attending 
thereon. 1 And this financial demoralization grew 
steadily worse until it became a disease in spite of 
the efforts of the best men in the State. The abuse 
of power by State officials did not cease until the 
coming of peace destroyed the opportunity for it; 
the habit of confiscating the property of Tories also 
became a disease, a disease which was constantly 
spreading, since so many people, toward the 
latter part of the war, had joined the British or 
grown lukewarm in their support of the American 
cause. The courts were not finally reorganized till 
the Supreme Court was established in 1818. In all 
these movements the Macons were prominent, gener 
ally following the lead of Willie Jones. 

* N C. State Records, XVII., 862 



NATHANIEL MACON. 

No man has ever wielded more power in the 
management of the State s affairs than Willie Jones, 
of Halifax, yet not two dozen lines about his life 
and work have ever been published. He kept the 
State true to the policy outlined by Virginia in the 
beginning of the Revolution and prevailed on the 
Halifax Constitutional Convention to adopt a con 
stitution to his liking, i. e., a constitution essentially 
similar to that of Virginia. Jones was a Virginian 
reformer after the pattern of Jefferson, whom he 
came to admire as he did no other living man. 

In this school of politics Nathaniel Macon served 
his apprenticeship ; and his later career shows how 
faithfully he listened and learned ; while his own 
course, during the first year of his experience in the 
legislature, shows how thoroughly he agreed with 
the policy of his teacher and endorsed the Virginia 
reforms so generally approved in his section of 
North Carolina the old "Southside of Roanoke." 

The journals of the Assembly for the years 1782, 
83 and 84 have been destroyed, with the exception 
of those of the House for 1782, which show that 
three Macons, John, Harrison, and Nathaniel, all 
brothers, were members : Nathaniel in the Senate 
and John and Harrison in the House. 1 John was 
by far the most active, serving on the most impor 
tant committees and presenting lengthy reports. 
He also took active part as a partisan of Timothy 
Bloodworth in an election case which was brought 
up by Alexander MacLaine of Wilmington. Blood- 
worth was supposed to be in favor of violent meas 
ures against the Tories ; he had been Treasurer of 
the State at the time of his election, which, Mac 
Laine claimed, made his choice unconstitutional. 
MacLaine was a member of the Conservative party 

i N. C. State Records, XVI., 3, 23, and 34. 



IN THE GENERA^ ASSEMBLY. 39 

and his correspondence shows he was making a 
strenuous effort as an attorney for some wealthy 
refugees, especially for George Hooper of Charles 
ton, brother of William Hooper, to have the Tories 
restored to their former political status. Blood- 
worth won, and with him the extremists on the 
Tory question. Nathaniel Macon belonged to the 
same party and, as it appears from his correspond 
ence with Jefferson in 1801, he favored harsh treat 
ment of those who supported the British during the 
war. 1 

The principal measures before the legislature in 
82 were the fixing of relations between the State 
and the so-called National Government ; the treat 
ment of the Tories was referred to; the reestab- 
lishment of trade and the improvement of the cur 
rency. Nathaniel Macon was appointed a member 
of the committee to take into consideration the rec 
ommendations of the Governor on the resolves of 
Congress. 2 Since there was no compulsory power 
vested in the Continental Congress, and now that 
war no longer made vigorous cooperation neces 
sary, the recommendations of the Governor "died in 
committee." Macon was not the man to urge 
National measures. On the subject of a National 
trade, he was likewise an indifferent member, not 
so much for lack of sympathy with the efforts then 
making for its reestablishment, but because of his 
ardent local patriotism. He favored State control 
of commerce and industry. Thus protection, of one 
sort or another, was being proposed by his party as 
a policy for North Carolina, though it was some 
years later before a protective and bounty-giving 
system was evolved. Macon was a protectionist in 

* Loiter of May 24, 1801 

N. C. State Records, XVI., 23. 



40 NATHANIEL MACON. 

North Carolina always. But his attitude toward 
the currency question was more characteristic, and 
on that subject his views were in advance of those 
of most of his fellows; his opinions remaining the 
same throughout his political life, whether applied 
to National or State issues, namely, that only a 
metallic currency was safe and just. 

From 1782 to 1786 nothing is known of his career 
in politics save that he was an active member of 
the Senate and an opponent of the rising influence 
of the Conservatives, chief amongst whom were 
Samuel Johnston, James Iredell, William Hooper, 
and Alexander MacLaine. This party, as has been 
observed, had begun to steer its course in 1776 after 
the establishment of the State constitution. During 
the war it had exerted considerable influence, and 
at its close it championed the cause of the Tories, 
and as things tended to extre.mes, it became 
stronger. Washington was claimed as its leader 
outside of the State as early as 1782. Alexander 
Martin, Timothy Bloodworth and General Griffith 
Rutherford, with others of the Jones party, were 
designated by epithets which would scarcely be 
admissible now in the most violent political cam 
paigns. Rutherford was "that bloodthirsty old 
scoundrel" and Martin an "arrant coward without 
the sense of a woodcock." The Conservatives advo 
cated Johnston for Governor during these years; 
but by way of compromise between the two parties 
Richard Caswell was several times elected. The 
question of National Union was scarcely mentioned 
during this war period, and the debt of more than 
a million to the General Government was not trouble 
some, to say the least. 1 

* N. C. State Recoids, XVI., 930 on : Hooper Machine correspond 
ence. 



CHAPTER VI. 

FOUNDING A HOME, 1782-1791. 

In 1782 Nathaniel Macon fell a victim to the 
charms of a very handsome lady of Warren, who 
bore the somewhat homely name of Hannah; she 
was a Miss Plummer, and her parents, like Macon s, 
were Virginians, and, what meant much in those 
days, well connected. Gotten says Macon was 
handsome, too ; six feet tall, perfectly proportioned, 
of a fine presence, urbane of manner and an 
extravagant admirer of womankind also the 
admired, he occasionally hints. 1 Nevertheless, he did 
not have things all his own way, if we may accept, 
as truth, stories which still circulate in the old town 
of Warrenton. According to one of which, when 
matters had come to a crisis, so far as Macon was 
concerned, Miss Hannah Plummer was still receiv 
ing attentions from some other suitor, whose name, 
happily, has not been preserved to us. The two 
competitors met on one occasion at the Plummer 
home, and Macon, who was a dexterous card-player 
suggested that Miss Hannah be the prize. The 
offer was accepted, with the result that Macon lost. 
"He immediately arose, raised high both hands and, 
with his eyes fixed on Hannah, and sparkling with 
beams of affection, exclaimed : notwithstanding I 
have lost you fairly love is superior to honesty I 
can not give you up. " 2 It is needless to add that 
he won the lady. 

i Cotten s Life of Macon, 51-52. 3 Ibid , 55-56. 



42 NATHANIEL MACdN. 

Macon and Miss Plummer were married October 
9th, 1783, and they made their home on Hubquarter 
Creek, twelve miles north of Warrenton, near the 
Roanoke. It was the place which had been given 
him by his father s will. Some five or six hundred 
acres of land surrounding the house constituted his 
estate; it was the nucleus of the plantation of later 
years. There was hardly a settlement within five 
miles, and he had preferred this to the far more valu 
able lands which had been given him on Shocco and 
in the midst of the best community in that section 
of the State. It shows another of those eccentric 
tendencies of the man, this preference for the wild 
forests,far removed from his relatives and associates. 
It is an oft-quoted saying of his in North Carolina, 
that "a man should not live near enough his neigh 
bors to hear his dogs bark." There, not far from 
the Roanoke River, and on a small hilltop, with tne 
help of a carpenter and his negro slaves he had 
cleared away the forest trees and built a new house ; 
it is still standing and in a perfect state of preser 
vation the most remarkable in America. The 
house, which the negroes no doubt called the 
" great house," is sixteen feet square, one story 
and a half high, with a well-arranged wine 
cellar underneath. Two doors, directly opposite 
each other, and two small windows, almost six feet 
above the floor, furnished sufficient ventilation. 
It need not be said that there are only two 
rooms in the house, one down, the other up-stairs. 
A very narrow, winding stairway leads up from one 
corner of the lower room. In each room there is 
an ample, well-finished open fireplace, and in every 
part of the house the very best workmanship is mani 
fested ; the whole is built of "heart poplar" lumber 
and finished in the best style. The ceiling is of the 



FOUNDING A HOME:. 4:3 

same material as the outside work and finished in 
the same way, except that for some unknown rea 
son, the finished planks were turned upside down 
that is, just the reverse from what we ordinarily 
term weatherboarding. In front of the building 
just described is another an exact counterpart, 
except the chimney is larger and the fireplaces are 
twice as wide. By the side of the fireplace in the 
lower room is the great crane, used in former days 
for swinging on and off pots and kettles of no small 
dimensions. This second house was the kitchen, 
but it served also as the family sitting-room. Up 
stairs in it is a neatly finished room, which, it is 
said, was the sleeping apartment of his daughters. 
Between these houses was the carriage and wagon 
road connecting different parts of the plantation and 
also leading out between barns and through horse 
lots into a winding country pathway that led finally 
into the Warrenton and Virginia road. Around the 
"great house" Mr. Macon s own apartments at a 
distance of some fifty yards, are the remains on the 
one side of dozens of Negro cabins, and on the other 
of barns for horses, cattle, hay and tobacco. This 
gives, at least in part, a picture of the once well 
known "Buck Spring," home of Nathaniel Macon 
of North Carolina. 

During the following years Macon was increas 
ing his fortune steadily though not rapidly. Tobacco 
growing was his occupation and farming was not 
then, as it is not now, a means of great wealth. A 
tax list which has been preserved 1 indicates that 
he owned in 1792 seven hundred and fifty acres of 
land and "14 black poles," which shows that some 
additions to his plantation had been made, and that 

1 In possession of Thomas M. Pittman, Esq., of Henderson, N. C., an 
indefatigable collector of North Caroliniana. 



44 NATHANIEL MACON. 

the number of negroes had been increased consider 
ably, taking his early patrimony as a beginning. 
Negro men were at that time rated at two hundred 
pounds in specie, 1 that is, about four hundred dol 
lars each. A fair estimate would make his estate 
worth between three and four thousand dollars in 
the money of that day, which was equivalent to twice 
that amount in our own time. 

Macon s position in North Carolina during this 
period of retirement is shown by his election to the 
Continental Congress in 1786 for the eventful year 
of 1787 and by his appointment a year later to the 
office of Lieutenant-Colonel of the Warren county 
militia. The first position he declined to accept on 
the ground of insufficient or unsatisfactory remu 
neration 2 which was inconsistent with his former 
practice. The real reason, no doubt, was his dis 
like- for the Continental service. It was the year 
of the Philadelphia Convention, to which he was 
opposed in toto. His friend and neighbor, Willie 
Jones, refused about the same time to represent 
North Carolina in this Convention. His excuse was 
no better than Macon s. The second honor con 
ferred by the General Assembly was more to his 
liking; he accepted and met regularly with the 
county militia to train them in the arts of war. 3 

There is an old leather-bound Bible now in the 
possession of Miss Laura Alston, of Warrenton, 
which speaks much for this period of Macon s life. 
The following entries in Macon s handwriting 
appear: "Betsey Kemp Macon, born September 12, 
1784; Plummer Macon, born April I4th, 1786; 
Seignora Macon, born November I5th, 1787; Han- 

i N. C. State Records, XVI., 77. 

a N. C. State Records, vol. XX., 605. 

3 N. C. State Records, vol. XX., 293, 461. 



FOUNDING A HOME. 45 

nah Macon died January nth, 1790; Plummer 
Macon died July 26th, 1792." The death of his 
wife, which is here recorded, was a blow, from 
which Macon never recovered. He never married 
again, though he was only thirty- two years old at 
the time of her death. It is said that he was devot 
edly attached to her, and his long unmarried life 
afterwards is a testimony to the faithfulness of the 
man. It was not unlike Jefferson s life of devo 
tion and romantic obedience to a wife, who left him 
a widower at a comparatively early age. The 
remains of Mrs. Macon were buried not many yards 
from the husband s house on the borders of the yard. 
Plummer Macon, his only son, was little more than 
six years old, when he, too, was taken away, about a 
year and a half after the mother s death. .It was 
the breaking up of a happy home, these two afflic 
tions, and, from that time on, the father was con 
stantly in politics, and consequently away from 
home. What arrangements were made for the two 
girls, Betsey and Seignora, for their training and 
education, the author has been unable to learn. 
Apparently they remained at Buck Spring in the 
care of some relative. 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE; ADOPTION OF THE NATIONAL CONSTITUTION BY 
NORTH CAROLINA. 

Something has been said of the Conservatives in 
North Carolina during the Revolution, their dissat 
isfaction with the Constitution of 1776, their dispo 
sition to remain neutral, their friendliness at the 
close of the war toward the Tories and their grow 
ing influence during the early years of peace. There 
is no need here of designating by name these lead 
ers, the most important of whom have been men 
tioned 1 . They represented the wealthier class of 
Eastern slave holders, some of whom had openly 
sided with England; others had joined the Revo 
lutionists, but had not approved of the ultra Demo 
cratic measures of 1776, and became lukewarm in 
their allegiance. They represented, too, the mercan 
tile interests of Wilmington, Newbern and Edenton ; 
many of them had been English or New England 
merchants and were not, of course, disposed to 
sacrifice their occupation for the service of ideals 
in advance of anything Europe had seen. They 
were the most respectable men in their neighbor 
hoods. When the war was ended and independence 
was an assured thing, they began to reckon with 
the new order of things. The extremists of 1776 
had found it a more difficult thing than had been an 
ticipated to control a State or direct the affairs of a 
people and were disposed all along to admit to office 

* Sec above, pages 41, 44. 



ADOPTION OF NATIONAL CONSTITUTION. 47 

the men whose administrative experience was 
greater than their zeal for the cause of popular 
rights. When the strain was relieved and patriotic 
fervor again had a free course, those who had openly 
opposed the war were severely enough handled. 
The Royalists were banished and their property 
confiscated; no nice distinctions were made as to 
degrees of disaffection to have been neutral at 
such a time as 1780 was especially reprehensible, 
and the more so if the suspected man owned consid 
erable property 1 . 

The wealthier classes felt that the rights of prop 
erty were in danger, that passion and prejudice were 
going to be the controlling elements in the new 
State organization. They began at once to urge 
their leaders to make decided efforts in favor of 
property rights and "men of connections." Organ 
ized effort followed, and the old East sought 
again to wrest from the North and the West the 
reins of power. 2 Johnston and Iredell were the 
leaders. The mistake they made was the too vigor 
ous support both in the courts and in the Assem 
bly of the Loyalists the wealthier of them. 
Extreme measures of persecution on the part of the 
Radicals begot in the Conservatives a spirit of 
extreme favoritism, which, for the time, defeated 
their plan of regaining control of affairs. But 
according to the old conciliatory policy of the 
"Whigs of 76," as they now began to call them 
selves, their opponents were sent to the Congress 3 of 
the Confederation, where they soon became Nation 
alists "Great American" as against "Small Ameri 
can," as the Germans would express it. For Eng 
land, the King and a general government, which 

i N. C. State Records, XVI,. 9?8-979- 3 See above, page 42. 

a Ibid, 992. 



4B NATHANIEL MACON. 

could protect the interests of trade and reward the 
services of men of talent and means, they would sub 
stitute United America. They became Americans, 
not North Carolinians. And what added to this sen 
timent was the indifference of State Supremacy men 
to the claims of property ; most men in North Caro 
lina refused, to pay debts contracted with the British 
prior to 1776, claiming that the war annulled them; 
Jefferson himself and Henry apologized for this 
disposition and sometimes openly encouraged it; 
and, in fact, until now, in the history of the world, 
this had been the customary treatment of the van 
quished party in all great struggles. 

The debts of the United States, contracted dur 
ing the War for Independence, were likewise 
ignored by the dominant party in North Carolina. 
In vain did Charles Thompson, the Secretary of 
the Congress, and Joseph Nourse, Registrar, send 
to the Assembly their accounts against the State. 
The millions of debt, which these bills called to the 
minds of our forefathers, did not cause them any 
uneasiness. A few empty resolutions were passed 
by the Houses, but nobody attempted to enforce 
them. North Carolina owed the Union in 1785 
more than a million dollars in interest alone on the 
debt contracted during the war, but she did not pay 
a cent of it 1 ; it really could not be paid, in specie, 
as was demanded, when there was so little money 
in the State: Whether the Assembly meant to pay 
these debts to the former Union, for there was none 
in 1785, can not be determined. A few years later 
regular installments of tobacco were bought by the 
State and sent to Philadelphia, so that slowly the 
debt began to be provided for, though this was so 
feebly done by all the States that American credit 

i N. C. State Records, XVII., 534-535. 



ADOPTION OF NATIONAL CONSTITUTION. 4:9 

abroad was not sufficiently good to prevent our Min 
ister in Holland from being dunned for his hotel 
bills. 

Something else which added to the strength of 
the Nationalists was the increasing jealousy of the 
States toward each other, and the continuous war of 
trade which was going on. Virginia and Mary 
land were laying duties on each other s products ; 
in New York spring chickens from New Jersey 
were taxed fifty per cent in favor of the farmers up 
the Hudson; and a cord of wood from Connecticut 
could not be delivered at one s back door without 
paying its tax to the custom s officer. 1 Jealousy, 
retaliation and State pride were giving rise to a state 
of affairs like that which overthrew the mediaeval 
empire of the Germans at the time of Luther. North 
Carolina and Virginia, even, were quarrelling about 
the subject of tariff in 1786, and Governor Henry 
and the legislature of Virginia appointed a com 
mittee to meet with a committee from North Caro 
lina to settle these trade difficulties. 2 

Before the treaty of peace was signed, and before 
it was know what would be the status of America 
as guaranteed by the States of Europe, MacLaine, 
Johnston and others began to designate Washington 
as the leader of the conservative forces in America. 3 
And there was no wiser counsel given to the leaders 
of the different States during all these anarchic 
years of 1783 to 1789 than that in Washington s 
famous letter to the Governors. It was at once 
made the platform of all those who desired a closer 
union of all the States ; and, connecting together all 
the ills to which the past few years had shown the 

1 John Fiske: Critical Period of American History, 146 147. 

2 N. C. State Records., XVII., 542, 658. 

3 MacLaine to Hooper, State Records, XVI., 974. 

4 



50 NATHANIEL MACON. 

country liable in 1787, these conservative men, whose 
number had been increasing as the States Rights 
party became consolidated, as the ills of State 
independence became more patent, succeeded in 
getting a convention of all the States together 
the Philadelphia Convention. A contract of com 
promises was arranged and the different States were 
called on to ratify this contract and to become mem 
bers, each of a central government, which should at 
least control the commercial interests of all for 
eign relations, and remedy the intolerable ills of a 
rag money system. 

Samuel Johnston, an advocate of this Nationalist 
policy, became Governor of North Carolina in 1788. 
He had been the perennial candidate of his party 
since 1780 and consequently there was a great jubi 
lee at his inauguration 1 . The elevation of Johnston 
to the Chief Magistracy of the State meant much 
for the adoption of the National Constitution. A 
call for a convention to consider the new constitu 
tion was issued and the election set for April. As 
great a fight between the advocates and opponents 
of adoption followed as has ever taken place in the 
State, with the result that a great majority of mem 
bers opposing adoption was chosen. The conven 
tion met and rejected the plan of National union by 
a vote of one hundred and eighty-four against 
eighty-four, and Willie Jones, Thomas Person, Tim 
othy Bloodworth and John Macon returned home 
rejoicing. The struggle which had just closed had 
been waged in a spirit of bitter animosity. Wash 
ington was unmercifully abused, and others, who 
favored a National government of practical powers, 
were termed Tories, conspirators against the com 
mon good. 

i William R. DAVIC to James Iredell, Jan. 11, 1788. 



ADOPTION OF NATIONAL CONSTITUTION. 51 

This shows that, during the years 1782 to 1788, 
the spirit of particularism, the party of State inde 
pendence as against National union, had been grow 
ing stronger instead of weaker. This party was 
still led by the redoubtable politician, Willie Jones 
of Halifax, a man of extraordinary mould, an aris 
tocrat in all that pertained to his personal and every 
day life, a representative of one of the oldest fami 
lies in the State; yet a Democrat of the most pro 
nounced views in public policy, a man whom more 
men feared and loved, who was the object of more 
hatred and more adoration than has ever since lived 
in North Carolina. Thomas Person, from Gran- 
ville, John Macon, a man of similar character in 
every respect to Jones, Thomas Benbury of Chowan, 
the Bloodworth brothers of New Hanover, Matthew 
Locke and General Rutherford of the west, were 
acknowledged followers of Jones. Their policy 
demanded (i) a free and absolutely independent 
State, (2) a genuinely democratic administration, 
(3) a general improvement in educational advan 
tages for the people. 

To secure the first of these, they advocated a rejec 
tion of all plans of union with other States, the 
building up of an industry which would not only 
supply our own demands, but which should enter 
into competition with the other States in their mar 
kets. Flour packers were required to observe strict 
regulations, both as to the grade of their products 
and as to the manner of shipment. 1 When crops 
were short in certain sections, the Assembly passed 
remedial laws ; when a general shortage was antici 
pated, exports were forbidden. It was the govern 
or s business to enquire into the condition of crops 
and report to the Assembly; he recommended im- 

1 N. C. I,aws, 1791. I., 13. 



52 NATHANIEX MACON. 

provement in agriculture and suggested bounties on 
manufacturers. The State began now regularly to 
give bounties to all beginners of new manufacturing 
establishments, and entered into co-partnership with 
individuals and with companies for the building of 
canals and the deepening of harbors, the improve 
ment of public highways and the advancement of 
public intercourse a policy almost identical with 
that of Henry Clay fifty years later. 1 

For securing the second primal feature of their 
policy, they adhered to the letter of the Constitution 
of 1776 and its Bill of Rights, both of which they 
succeeded in so canonizing that they remained unal 
tered and in full force until a still more Democratic 
wave from the West came over the State in 1835. 
They advocated, for the same purpose, the cruel 
measures against the former Royalists, so much 
complained of by their opponents in the State and 
country at large. They demanded yearly assemblies 
and yearly tenure of office, constant vigilance of 
committees of the Legislature over public affairs, 
and strict accountability of members of the Conti 
nental Congress to their constituents, who, as was 
repeatedly declared after the adoption of the gen 
eral constitution, were to be guided in their votes 
by the wishes of the Assembly, and not by their 
own opinions of public policy. The members of the 
Congress which sat in Philadelphia and New York 
had their hands sufficiently tied during these years 
of State supremacy. 

But a remarkable feature of their era of control, 
and that which made out the third ,part of their 
programme, was their attention to education. A 
general revival of learning seems to have set in dur 
ing the earlier portion of their control. In the 

i N. C. State Records, XVIII., 418. 



ADOPTION OF NATIONAL CONSTITUTION. 53 

midst of the turmoil of war and imminent danger to 
the State at the beginning of the year 1780, we 
find the Assembly organizing a seminary of learn 
ing in Granville county, and incorporating a 
board for its control and government. Immediately 
after the war closed, their educational policy became 
general and effective. Nearly every Assembly 
insisted that "one or more universities ought to be 
established by law." The men who insisted on 
this increase in the facilities for education were the 
graduates of the good old Presbyterian College of 
New Jersey, already mentioned. The popular 
ex-Governor Martin, General Davie, and the Hawk 
ins brothers, were making their Presbyterian train 
ing tell, though they were not all Presbyterians 
themselves. A dozen schools and academies, some 
of which received aid from the State, were estab 
lished by the General Assembly in the year 1786 
alone. 1 The Davidson Academy was given the 
benefit of the Salt Springs in the neighborhood, 
which had been the property of the government; 
and Hillsboro Academy, on the recommendation 
of William Hooper, was to receive aid from the 
State. All parties joined in this educational revival ; 
the day had not come for rivalries and jealousies 
concerning the greatest duty the human race has to 
perform the education of the young. The 
advanced views of the Virginian reformers on the 
subject of slavery did not, however, find a hearty 
welcome in North Carolina. Notwithstanding the 
extreme tendency for that day of the liberal reform 
party, in so far as the rights and privileges of white 
men were concerned, there was not that sympathy 
and solicitude for the ultimate happiness of the 
negro race which characterized Washington, Jeffer- 

i N. C State Records, XVIIL, 256-316. 



54: NATHANIEL MACON. 

son, Mason, and others in Virginia. The principal 
influence which was made, felt in North Carolina 
for the amelioration of the condition of the Negro 
had its source in the Quaker settlements and their 
homely meeting-houses. A law was passed in 1786 
declaring the importation of negroes to be "of evil 
consequences and highly impolitic," and placing a 
tax of five pounds on each negro imported after that 
date, which it need scarcely be said was in advance 
of the time. 1 

These were the primal measures of the party 
which opposed any form of confederation with the 
other States, and their object was clearly what 
Jones himself desired an independent republic 
administering its affairs in a fatherly manner. It was 
after all a sort of paternalism so much in vogue in 
Europe at the time. Jones and his followers out 
lined a plan of procedure for the State, which pro 
vided for a separate existence from the Union, for 
a period of five years, in which time, it was thought, 
such a spirit of independence and particularism 
would be developed as would prevent forever the 
adoption of the General Constitution. These men 
had, however, carried their plan too far; Virginia s 
influence in North Carolina was great; the friends 
of the new Constitution were powerful, and they 
soon gathered to them all the more conservative 
political forces of the State; the Federal Govern 
ment guaranteed, too, the peace of the State, protec 
tion from invasion by the Indians. And it was but 
a short while before men began to change their opin 
ions, and to wish that some arrangement might be 
made with the United States. A second convention 
was called to meet at Fayetteville, and the National 
Constitution was adopted, the convention being 

* See Journals of Assembly. 



ADOPTION OF NATIONAL, CONSTITUTION. 55 

guaranteed, though not officially, that certain amend 
ments should be made, which should include a Bill 
of Rights not unlike that appended to the North 
Carolina Constitution. This was done in Novem 
ber, 1789, only a year after the Hillsboro Cojiven- 
tion had so peremptorily rejected all plans of union, 
and six months after Washington had been inaugu 
rated. It has been generally believed that North 
Carolina remained out of the Union in accordance 
with a general understanding with the Virginia 
Anti-Federalists, in order to secure the above-named 
amendments. Whether this is true can not be defi 
nitely shown ; but from the policy of the opponents 
of adoption one is convinced that they intended to 
remain out of the Union until Patrick Henry s pro 
posed plan of forming a confederacy of Southern 
States could be matured. 

Nathaniel Macon was not a member of either of 
the constitutional conventions ; but John Macon was 
a member of the first, and presumably of the second. 
In the first, he staunchly opposed adoption, and 
assisted Jones and Person materially in defeating 
the plans of the Federalists. All three of the 
Macons who were in political life belonged to the 
Jones party. When, however, the northern sec 
tion of the State came to favor adoption ; when 
Jones programme proved unpopular, even in his 
own county of Halifax, Nathaniel Macon acquiesced 
and became the first representative from the Hills 
boro district in the National House of Representa 
tives. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

FIRST YEARS IN CONGRESS, 1791-1795. 

Nathaniel Macon, then almost thirty-three years 
old, took his seat in the House of Representatives as 
a member for the Hillsboro District of North Caro 
lina on Oct. 26, 1791 (Warren, Franklin, Granville, 
Wake and Orange counties constituted this district). 
On the same day, and sworn in at the same time at 
the bar of the House, came Theodore Sedgwick, of 
Massachusetts, a man as different from Macon in 
political ideals, in personal demeanor, as the North 
is different from the South ; the political antipode of 
Macon, was this Sedgwick, for many years to 
come, the man who was twice to compete with him 
for the Speakership of the House. 1 Macon was 
just entering on a career which was to continue 
without interruption for a period of thirty-seven 
years, on a career which kept him in the arena of 
National politics at a time when the bands of 
National union were being forged. The experience 
he brought into his new field of labor was not the 
most extensive. Reared on a tobacco plantation, 
educated in a Puritan college ; a student of law and 
English history for three years; tried in the stress 
of 1780-1781 of the Revolutionary struggle in the 
South ; a member of the North Carolina Assemblies 
from 1780-1786, at a time when political parties 
were not unevenly balanced; member-elect of the 
Continental Congress in 1787, and an active oppo- 

i Annals of Congress, id Cong., ist Sess., 143. 



FIRST YEARS IN CONGRESS. 57 

nent of the adoption of the Federal Constitution, 
his experience could not have been inferior to that 
of many another, yet it had been almost entirely of 
a provincial nature. International affairs were then 
and for a long time to come beyond his political hori 
zon. On the other hand, States Rights, local 
patriotism of the Virginian type, and close affilia 
tion with the intensest opponents of Nationalism, 
had tended to prejudice his mind against all matters 
of national concern. He was a planter of mediocre 
means, a gentleman whose closest companions, after 
the members of his family, were his thoroughbreds 
and his dogs. He remained a planter and isolated 
from the world of commerce, and his life in fields 
and forests tended to increase his contempt for the 
narrow limits of town and city. 

Macon entered National politics when the first 
pass of arms between Jefferson and Hamilton, the 
representatives of the antagonistic forces of the new 
nation, had just taken place; and Southern members 
were beginning to feel sore over the defeat which 
it had brought them. Virginia was complaining 
that New England and the Dutch city on the Hud 
son were carrying things their own way and for 
selfish, commercial ends. Pennsylvania was agi 
tated by the long and acrimonious quarrel with Con- 
necticutt about the Wyoming Valley, and the west 
ern settlers of the same state were transferring 
their opposition, so long directed at their own State 
government to that of the Nation. Foreign affairs 
were becoming more and more complicated and 
unfriendly toward the young republic, which was 
promising to become an everlasting monument to 
European jealousy. All Europe was divided into 
two camps camps commanded by Frenchmen on 
the one side, and Englishmen on the other. The 



58 NATHANIEL MACON. 

leaven of the American Revolution was working 
mightily in every country in the civilized world, and 
Americans themselves began to stand awe-stricken 
at the havoc they had done and were doing still ; the 
more conservative of them in the United States, as 
we have seen in the State of North Carolina, became 
exceedingly fearful of the results, drew back and 
formulated a creed of reaction, while the more radi 
cal still held to the Declaration of Independence, as 
the chart by which not only ours, but all the ships 
of state should be guided. The conservatives 
espoused extreme Nationalist views; the radicals 
Republicans, as they now began to designate them 
selves took up the cause of the States, and the 
cause of individual rights and equality. "The peo 
ple," what they are, what their place in the Ameri 
can commonwealth was to be, were the questions 
which exercised every mind. Madison was becom 
ing distasteful to the East, because he listened to 
"arguments ad populum"; and Jay declared, what 
many believe now, that "the majority of every peo 
ple are deficient both in virtue and in knowledge." 
Madison s friend, Jefferson, was saying that instead 
of one honest man in fifteen among the common peo 
ple, he found fourteen ; and that instead of fourteen 
honest men in fifteen among the so-called better 
classes, he found only one. 1 Hamilton, Jay s 
friend and political patron of a later day, thought 
the people a "great beast," which must be securely 
bound if one would live at peace and under a good 
government. Furthermore, people were still read 
ing and discussing two exceedingly interesting and 
important books : Burke s " Reflections on the 
French Revolution" and Tom Paine s " Rights of 
Man." Besides, and old Princeton student, Philip 

* Writings of Jefferson (Ford), VII , 24-25. 



FIRST YEARS IN CONGRESS. 59 

Freneau, was publishing his most partisan and 
saucy Gazette, a Democratic journal, which was 
opposed by Fenno s Gazette, another paper which 
existed solely for partisan purposes. Members 
of the Cabinet and leaders of Congress wrote, 
under Latin nom de plumes, the dryest political 
essays, which, however, were read enough to set 
people guessing who the authors were, and to put 
the politicians at one another s ears. 1 What Macon 
was to become amidst these surroundings, and which 
side would gain his support, would not have been 
difficult to determine even then by those who knew 
him. 

Macon was not present when the House was 
exchanging its rather Republican Speaker, Muhlen- 
berg, for Jonathan Trumbull, of Connecticut^ a 
man of the required political complexion; but he 
was there to witness the two days of hair-splitting 
courtesy between the representatives of the sover 
eign people in the President s chair, and the repre 
sentatives of the same sovereign people in the sev 
enty-five chairs of the House, and all about the eti 
quette in the House s reply to the President s 
address. The first debates that Macon heard in this 
new arena were on the prosy subject of the appor 
tionment of representatives ; and he was made 
a member of the committee appointed to prepare and 
bring in a bill suitable to a resolution, that thirty 
thousand should be the number of voters requisite 
to each representative. The committee reported its 
bill November 31, and the first words of Macon in 
the House were delivered in favor of increasing the 
number from thirty to thirty-five thousand, and 
when Bourne, of Rhode Island, rather uselessly 
opposed his amendment, Macon arose and made a 

i Schouler : History of the United States, I., 150-200. 



60 NATHANIEL MACON. 

very pointed and sensible remark of a single sen 
tence, 1 to the effect that Rhode Island s demand for 
a constitutional amendment touching the subject 
was not likely to be granted. Macon s amendment 
was lost, as was also the one for thirty- four thousand 
offered by Bourne, and a bill favoring one represent 
ative for every thirty thousand voters passed, but 
was rejected by the Senate, which, since the arrange 
ment would leave a greater number of large frac 
tions in the New England states, was to that body 
highly objectionable. It proposed thirty-three thou 
sand, which the House in turn rejected. A second 
bill passed both Houses, but was vetoed by the 
President, because he considered it unconstitutional 
first veto in our national history. The Senate 
plan of thirty-three thousand as a basis was then 
accepted by the House, and became a law April 14, 
I792. 2 During these interminable debates, a great 
deal of acrimony and partisanship was manifested; 
vox populi was likened to vox diaboli on one occa 
sion ; at other times, the aristocratic tendency of the 
Senate, the Slave and the Bank questions, gave 
opportunity for sweeping charges and general 
denunciations. Macon voted with his colleagues 
steadily, and soon after the beginning of the session 
ceased to make any remarks, apparently leaving Dr. 
Hugh Williamson to represent himself and his 
State. The bill as finally passed increased North 
Carolina s representation from five to ten. 

The next subject on which Macon took decided 
ground, and on which he made some pointed 
remarks, was the granting to the widow of General 
Greene a sum of sixty thousand dollars to indemnify 
the Greene estate for losses the General had suffered 

* Annals of Congress, 2d Cong , 200. 

2 Annals of Congress, 2d Cong , ist Sess , 200 on ; Schouler, I , 206. 



FIRST YEARS IN CONGRESS. 61 

as a result of his becoming surety for some Americo- 
British merchants of Charleston in 1783. Macon 
has been uniformly censured for his opposition to 
the petition of Mrs. Greene. The case seems to 
have been as follows: in November, 1782, when 
the American army, commanded by General Greene, 
was mutinying, because of lack of food and clothing, 
General Greene entered into a contract with Hunter, 
Banks & Co., of Charleston, to furnish the necessary 
supplies, although it was generally admitted that trie 
price demanded was much too high. But no com 
petitor could be found, and after due efforts were 
made to find the supplies elsewhere, the contract 
had been closed. In April of the following year the 
creditors of Hunter, Banks & Co. refused to cooper 
ate further in the delivery of army supplies without 
security, and General Greene himself executed a 
bond in behalf of Banks, one of his contractors, for 
eight thousand pounds sterling. Hunter, Banks & 
Co. failed to meet their obligations, and Greene s 
estate became liable. The authority to enter into 
arrangements with contractors for supplying the 
army had been given Greene by Congress, and so 
he reported all of his actions to that body except the 
surety matter of April, 1783, which was not made 
public until it was known that a large sum would 
have to be paid by General Greene. When this 
part of the transaction came before the old Congress, 
there was some demur, and in the general weakness 
of that body, no reparation was made. In 1786, 
Greene died, and the executions against his prop 
erty were partially carried into effect, and Mrs. 
Greene was about to lose altogether sixty thousand 
dollars in a matter which concerned chiefly the 
United States, for which her husband had acted. 
March 4, 179/3, Mrs. Greene presented her claim 



62 NATHANIEL MACON. 

to Hamilton, in New York, who made out a lengthy 
petition embodying all the facts in the case and sent 
it to Congress, with a recommendation for its favor 
able consideration. The matter did not come up 
for final settlement until January, 1792, when stren 
uous opposition to reimbursement, based on numer 
ous conditions, developed: (i) Greene had made 
himself very unpopular in South Carolina, in the 
fall of 1782, by advocating the cause of some ex 
treme Royalists, who were then asking favors of the 
State government, by his general criticisms of the 
behavior of the Southern states and their troops 
relative to the war and to his campaign in particu 
lar, and also by his disputing the authortiy of Gov 
ernor Guerard in certain matters, which the latter 
claimed fell within the civil jurisdiction; (2) some 
letters of the Banks Company were opened by Gen 
eral Scott in Virginia, in the fall of 1782, which 
showed two of Greene s staff officers, Forsyth and 
Burnet, to be silent partners in the Banks concern, 
though apparently without Greene s knowledge; (3) 
Greene had not informed Congress of an important 
part of his transactions, until it was found that he 
would have to pay the surety. Naturally the South 
ern Congressmen, who had nearly all heard of the 
reports, following the opening of the Banks letters 
in Virginia, that Greene himself was speculating in 
the Banks contracts, were disposed to oppose the 
petition. Besides the high price which was col 
lected for the supplies, the fact that most of these 
supplies came through the Banks firm from English 
merchants whose stocks were forced upon the market 
by the evacuation of Charleston, which should have 
lowered prices, and the entire absence of other 
offers in so large a town, had convinced many at 
the time that Greene was interested in the contracts ; 



FIRST YEARS IN CONGRESS. 63 

and in 1792 this conviction was general in the 
South. 

It is not the author s purpose to do more than 
state the conditions which influenced Macon in his 
policy of opposing Mrs. Greene s petition. Macon, 
it will be recalled, entered the army without accept 
ing the usual bounty, and it may be added here that 
he served during the fall and winter of 1780-1781 
absolutely at his own expense. He did not, as it 
appears from his later actions, expect others to serve 
their country gratis ; but he was always uncompro 
misingly opppsed to any man s accepting anything 
as a gratuity from the government. To him Greene 
had become unpopular when he made reflections on 
North Carolina troops, whether there was ground 
for such reflections or not. In regard to the alleged 
connections of Greene with Banks, it may be said 
that most Southern Congressmen appear to have 
credited the report. Every one of the North Caro 
lina delegation in Congress voted against granting 
the indemnity claimed by Mrs. Greene. 1 And what 
ever may be said of General Greene s integrity, 
which scarce any one doubts, he was indiscreet in 
his behavior in these transactions, and naturally 
questions arose in the minds of others when half 
his army, also, had believed him to be interested. 2 
Most commanders of exceptional ability have been 
unfortunate in their financial affairs, either from 
lack of foresight or from indifference, and such 
seems to have been the case with General Greene. 
It was not because Macon opposed the allowance of 
the indemnity to the Greene estate ; nor because he 
was unwilling to reimburse an officer who had 
"gone surety" for his country. John Steele, of Sal- 

* Annals of Congress, ad Cong , ist Sess . 531. 
a Johnson s t,ife of Nathaniel Greene, I., 383. 



64 NATHANIEL MACON. 

isbury, son of the woman who had given all the 
money she had to Greene in 1781, and a man most 
likely to view the case in a favorable light, opposed 
the petition, and he seems to have believed that 
Greene had not been altogether clear of the charge 
which had been brought against him. Steele was a 
Federalist, and the Federalists almost unanimously 
supported Mrs. Greene s claim. 1 What still further 
prejudiced the case with Macon was the fact that 
Hamilton was a sort of attorney for Mrs. Greene 
before the House. Anything which Hamilton did 
or proposed was subject to serious question with 
Macon at that time. 

From the beginning the Southern members of 
Congress had distrusted Hamilton s financial scheme 
and as his system further developed this distrust 
became open opposition. The funding of the 
National debt, assumption of State debts and the 
organization of the National Bank had been bit 
terly opposed by the South. Hamilton s doctrine 
that "a National debt will be a National blessing, 
a powerful cement of union, a necessity for keep 
ing up taxation," was not an orthodox political 
creed south of Philadelphia. The consolidation of 
financial agencies ; the strong and open attachment 
of the wealthy classes to the Treasury ; the bestowal 
of doucers, subsidies and commissions on those 
who were to be gained; the positive assurance on 
the part of Hamilton to the banks, that nothing 
should be lost to them by their support of his meas 
ures, aroused the ire of plain Republicans like 
Macon and challenged open attack. It was known 
that the Treasurer was, as Schouler says, "Feather 
ing the nests of his favorites," and these favorites 

1 Annals of Congress, 2d Cong., ist Sess , 455. 

2 Schouler, I., 217-218. 



FIRST YEARS IN CONGRESS. 65 

did not conceal their dislike of Democratic institu 
tions. 2 Everybody in Philadelphia, except Wash 
ington, was apparently committed to one or the 
other of the two parties, and most people under 
stood in what direction Hamilton was steering and 
with what means. It was thought that many were 
corruptly connected with the Treasurer and that 
an investigation would bring to light transactions 
which would essentially check the rising influence 
of the Secretary. 

On February 23d Macon proposed the following 
resolution : 

"Resolved, That the Secretary of the Treasury 
cause to be laid before this House a statement of 
the balances remaining unpaid, if any, which may 
have been due by individuals to the United States 
previous to the fourth day of March, one thou 
sand, seven hundred and eighty-nine, and whether 
any, and what, steps have been taken to recover the 
same; and also a statement of the sundry sums of 
public money which may have been intrusted to 
individuals, previous to said fourth day of March, 
one thousand, seven hundred and eighty-nine, and 
have not been accounted for." 

The purpose of this resolution was plain enough 
and it at once brought all the friends of the Treas 
urer into their seats; they claimed it was irregular, 
"out of form," and calculated to embarass the 
Comptroller besides carrying an imputation on that 
officer when no charge had been made. If any 
thing had been going wrong, said they, let us call 
him to account and institute an impeachment, but 
let us not take a step which would bring an investi 
gation. A storm of opposition was excited, but 
the supporters of Macon s resolution claimed that 
no imputation was meant nor could be read into 
5 



66 NATHANIEL MACON. 

it, that the House had an undoubted right to call 
for such statements from the Treasurer, that an 
opinion had gone abroad that large sums of money 
were due from individuals, and that the public has 
a right to know if settlement is being made and 
that, far from any reflection being intended upon 
the Comptroller, it was, on the contrary, to his inter 
est to satisfy the public of the falsity of public opin 
ion against him and that the disclosure of names, 
which the opponents of the resolution had made so 
much of, would only relieve good men from being 
suspected of illicit connection with the treasury. 
"No honest man need fear an investigation" was 
the claim of Macon and his supporters 1 . 

Macon served on several other committees, and 
offered one or two other resolutions during the 
first session of the Second Congress. It is interest 
ing to note, in view of his later political life, that 
he moved to strike out a clause of a bill which 
would have removed the duty on foreign cotton. 
The House was in Committee of the Whole, consid 
ering this bill. It had been proposed to enhance the 
duty on hemp and strike out that on cotton. Doctor 
Williamson, from Edenton, North Carolina, was so 
interested in a pet scheme of his for improving 
American navigation, which he thought would be 
aided by the measure, that he favored the clause 
against cotton. Macon, apparently better acquainted 
with the conditions of that infant industry, insisted 
that the duty on cotton should remain, that great 
quantities were being raised in the South for which 
there was not a sufficient demand. John Steele of 
North Carolina and John Page of Virginia made 
speeches in favor of Macon s protection for his 
"infant industry." Steele declared that "the farm- 

Annals of Congress, ad Cong., ist Sess., 425. 



FIRST YEARS IN CONGRESS. 67 

ers of North Carolina had gone largely into the 
cultivation of that article" and Page maintained 
further that the first varieties of cotton, which New 
Englanders claimed could be had only from Europe, 
were being grown in the South and that successful 
experiments had been recently made with West 
India cotton. Kittera of Pennsylvania opposed the 
encouragement of cottongrowing because it would 
impoverish the soil and work injury to the farmer 
himself. The Eastern men carried their measure 
and Macon s protective tariff policy was defeated; 
but it had required the vote of the Speaker. Two 
South Carolinians, William Smith and Daniel 
Huger voted with the Easterners 1 . 

The debates on this subject occupied only a short 
time in the House and excited no comment in the 
country ; but the little pass at arms was very signifi 
cant, could any one have foreseen that the "infant 
industry" of cotton growing was to become the 
greatest in America and was to be the indirect 
cause of our greatest war. Cotton lost ; and manu 
facturers gained; but the beginning in this sort of 
dispute had scarce been made. Macon was the 
advocate of protection and Doctor Williamson, 
Macon s colleague, finally voted for the measure 
simply because it might build up a carrying trade 
and give employment to "his sailors." Macon fore 
saw the importance of cotton, its advantage to the 
South, his section, and he at once took his stand. 
His heart was with the South primarily and after 
wards with the Union, and such motives actuated 
most men who voted in the early is not all subse 
quent Congresses. 

Before the second session of the Second Con 
gress opened, the second presidential election took 

* Annals of Congress, ad Cong., ist Sess , 560. 



68 NATHANIEL MACON. 

place. North Carolina was glad to cast its entire 
vote for Washington for President; but not so 
with Adams for Vice-President. George Clinton 
received the twelve electorial votes of the State for 
that office. The election of a successor to Samuel 
Johnston, who had been chosen in 1790 for a term 
of two years in the United States Senate, occasioned 
a deadlock of twelve days in the Assembly of 
1 792-^93. The outcome was Johnston s defeat. He 
was the recognized leader of the extreme Federal 
ists and his defeat was the prime object of Macon s 
party. Alexander Martin, a Virginian school 
teacher, who had been Governor of North Caro 
lina, a man who began his career by voting against 
the Federalists and ended it by voting with them, 
was made his successor. In the House only two 
members of the Second Congress from North Caro 
lina were returned the following year, 1793, one of 
whom was William Barry Grove, a good Federal 
ist from Cumberland county, who had once been 
the proteg6 of MacLaine, and the Hoopers, the 
other Nathaniel Macon. The cause of the sweep 
ing change was the general dissatisfaction with the 
support some members had given Hamilton s Treas 
ury measures and the excise; and, more than all, 
the disposition of Johnston was to ignore the people 
and the legislature. It had been the custom of the 
delegates to the old Congress to appear each year 
before the Assembly and, like the ambassadors of 
ancient Venice, give accounts of their stewardship. 
Johnston and Hawkins, the other Senator, had 
made no attempt to meet this custom but had rather 
shown contempt for the poffered instructions of the 
legislature. North Carolinians were displeased, evi 
dently, with the first "Republican court," as Gris- 
wold has called it, and the elections of 1792 and 



FIRST YEARS IN CONGRESS. 69 

1793 cleansed the seats" of those who were sus 
pected of being tainted with Federalism. As was 
said, Grove alone was able by virtue of the staunch 
Federalism which grew out of the Moore s Creek 
battle to retain his place. He remained a member 
of Congress from his district, Cumberland and 
neighboring counties, for twenty years to come. 1 

The short session of this Congress was not fruit 
ful of beneficial legislation. The opposition under 
the leadership of Madison, Macon and Giles directed 
all their blows against Hamilton with the view of 
forcing him from the cabinet, as Hamilton himself 
had, through the papers, attempted to force Jefferson 
to retire. After some weeks spent in measuring 
fine speeches with the President, the opposition 
began their determined attack. The recent elec 
tions in the Southern states had shown how general 
was the dislike for the ways of the Secretary of 
Treasury. Virginia had passed scathing resolutions 
against the Assumption bill; the people of west 
ern Pennsylvania and North Carolina had refused 
to pay the excise tax on whiskey; George Clinton, 
with the aid of Aaron Burr, the adroitest politician 
in America, had gained control of New York and 
had finally secured the whole vote of the Republican 
party in that State for the Vice-Presidency despite 
Hamilton s greatest endeavors. 2 The opposition 
began their fight in some resolutions in reply to 
Washington s address and they managed to turn 
every debate in the direction of Hamilton until 
finally Giles, the nominal leader of the Virginia 
delegation in the House, brought in the series of 
resolutions demanding a sharp inquest in the man 
agement of the Treasury, the same plan, but differ- 

1 journals of the North Carolina Assembly, 1792,21-23 ; Moore, I., 412. 

2 Schouler, I., 231. 



70 NATHANIEX MACON. 

ently and more elaborately outlined, which Macon 
had proposed at the preceding session. Madison 
made a long and effective speech in favor of it, 
while Smith of the Charleston district, South Caro 
lina, and Sedgwick of Massachusetts, took up the 
defence of Hamilton. Macon s attitude was the 
same, judging by his vote, in this instance as it 
had been when he himself directed the attack. But 
the hour had been ill chosen, and before the final 
vote was taken, Giles overshot his mark by attempt 
ing to pass a vote severely censuring Hamilton ; 
this weakened very decidedly the whole opposition 
scheme. Still the Secretary was only partially 
exonerated and rather plainly criticised for 
repeatedly transcending his authority in the mat 
ter of loans 1 . 

The thi*d Congress met in Philadelphia in 
November, 1793, with a delegation of ten members 
from North Carolina in the House instead of the 
former five. The increase in the number of dele 
gates was due to the census of 1790 and the follow 
ing reapportionment. Not a little has been said about 
the unfair treatment of North Carolina by the First 
and Second Congresses in allowing the State only 
five delegates. But the blame lies wholly with 
North Carolina. A census had been taken by order 
of the State government in 1786, and it was so 
poorly done that not half the population- was enu 
merated. 2 This count had been the basis of the 
first apportionment, which explains why the State 
sent only five members to Congress when it was 
entitled to send at least eight. The new and larger 
delegation was almost entirely Republican, "Antis," . 
or "Mobocrats," as the Federalists called them. 

* Annals of Congress, 2d Cong., 2d Sess , 899 on. 
a N. C. State Records, XVIII., 433-434- 



FIRST YEARS IN CONGRESS. 71 

Macon was as much their leader as any no 
Republican leader among North Carolinians having 
developed especial strength in National politics. 
The democratic spirit was so prevalent in North 
Carolina that a sort of dead-level was kept up in its 
delegation ; no men of great ability belonged to it, 
also no untrustworthy ones. Experience in legis 
lative matters was likely to give precedence and on 
that ground Macon seems to have assumed a certain 
kind of leadership. 

Macon s first work in the new Congress was to 
recommend, as a member of a special committee, 
an oppropriation for increasing our naval force in 
order to bring the Barbary States of Africa to rea 
son. The Federalits voted against the bill because 
they deemed the appropriation entirely inadequate 1 . 
During the months following, he was always pres 
ent and served on several small committees. The 
debate on the Militia bill of that session was long 
and tedious and turned many a time against Macon s 
pet notions respecting the importance of militia 
service. 

May 6th Macon introduced a series of resolu 
tions looking to a change of the excise laws which 
were working so much dissatisfaction in Pennsyl 
vania and most of the other States to the South. 
These resolutions provided (i) for a tax on malt 
beer and porter made in the United States ; ( 2 ) on 
all imported beers; (3) on all cider made in the 
country, and (4) if the third resolution taxing cider 
passed, no tax was to be collected on brandy since 
that would be double taxation. The real object 
of these resolutions was to bring all parts of the 
country under the operation of the odious excise 
laws, which was soon to bring on insurrection in 

i Anals of Congress, 3d Cong., ist Sess , 154-155- 



72 NATHANIEL MACON. 

several sections of the country. As at that time 
enforced the excise was extremely oppressive to the 
distillers of Western Pennsylvania and the moun 
tain sections of the South men whose only means 
of raising a "money crop" was by transforming 
their abundant fruits into brandy, or their corn into 
whiskey, both of which were easily marketable. 
"Hamilton s excise," as Jefferson was fond of call 
ing it, was pressing from the poorest classes of 
people a million a year, while the wealthier con 
sumers of beer and wine in the East and in the 
cities were not taxed at all. Macon s proposed plan 
would have made the tax general, with advantages 
in favor of the South, where most cider was made 
and consumed on the plantation, and therefore im 
possible to be taxed. Madison opposed Macon s 
scheme along with the whole excise system ; Nicho 
las of Virginia favored it because it would become 
so exasperating to the whole people that the tax 
would have to be removed. Macon s claim was 
that the present system was not just and so he 
offered -this to equalize taxation ; though he too 
modestly deferred to the "sentiments of the major 
ity" at the close of his few remarks. The resolu 
tions, after some rather ungenerous charges of 
inconsistency on the part of advocates of them, 1 
failed of passing. At the time the Macon reso 
lutions were before the House, Hamilton s car 
riage tax was being advocated. This tax would 
apply particularly in Virginia and the South, where 
- the great distances between plantations made vehi 
cles a necessity, even to the small landholders ; this 
Macon opposed uniformly, but it could not be pre 
vented frorii becoming a law. 2 

i Annals of Congress, 3d Cong., ist Sess , 648-651. 
a Annals of Congress, 3<1 Cong , ist Sess., 672. 



FIRST YEARS IN CONGRESS. 73 

Macon became again the cause of a lively dispute 
about the policy of the Treasury on May 12. A reso 
lution had just passed calling on the Treasurer to 
submit to the executives of the several States 
reports on the condition of accounts between the 
States and the general government. Macon had 
been appointed chairman of the committee to confer 
with Hamilton on the subject. He now made a mo 
tion that copies of another report be furnished giving 
clear information on other subjects, one of which was 
the disposition made of certain public funds about 
which the Federalists were reluctant to speak. Sedg- 
wick was at once on the floor declaring that Macon 
desired to "raise discord and jealousy in the United 
States and to feed them." Some warm words fol 
lowed and Macon s resolution was finally referred 
to a committee which never reported, which was 
expected 1 . Hamilton was not an object of cordial 
love with the North Carolina delegation and Macon, 
as we have seen, was particularly averse to his 
methods, taking every occasion to criticise them. 
This motion was a kind of parting shot from 
Macon at the close of the session. 

On Macon s return to Congress after the summer 
and autumn vacation, he was made a member of 
the first standing committee on elections and, though 
he was not chairman, he seems to have shown his 
judicial and upright turn of mind so clearly that by 
common consent he became the moving spirit of the 
committee and made its reports. 2 The report of the 
committee in the first contest was an interesting one 
in view of some recent disputes about resignations of 
members of Congress. It was between Mercer and 
Dttvall of Maryland. Mercer had given in his res- 

1 Annals of Congress, sd Cong., ist Sess., 674-75. 

2 Annals of Congress, sd Cong , 2d Sess., 874. 



- 



74 NATHANIEL MACON. 

ignation to the Governor and it had been accepted. 
A new election was called and Duvall was chosen 
for the unexpired term. Mercer changed his mind 
and claimed, it seems, that his resignation was not 
valid and returned to Congress, claiming his seat. 
The committee held that the Governor s* action in 
accepting the resignation and ordering a new elec 
tion was constitutional, and that Duvall was enti 
tled to the seat. 

The President s speech at the opening called 
forth an angry debate, which was kept up for 
weeks, and which finally resulted in the first dis 
sent of the House from Washington s opinion. 
Macon voted with the dissenters, though there is 
no evidence of a more active opposition on his part 
to the President s recommendation, notwithstand 
ing their whole tenor was against his decided con 
victions 1 . In the other important measures, the 
public debt, naturalization bill, defense of the 
frontiers, which excited so much acrimonious and 
useless debate, Macon took no part openly; but 
when the question of indemnity to the University 
of North Carolina and to many citizens of the 
State for losses sustained, when the United States 
restored to the Indians large tracts of Tennessee 
lands, to which these parties had claims, came up, 
he made a short speech in favor of indemnity and 
labored industriously for the petitioners until at 
least a measure of relief was guaranteed. 2 In this 
matter, as in most others, Sedgwick opposed him 
particularly, maintaining that the allowance of the 
so-called Thomas Person claims would open the 
way for thousands of others. 

The last, public utterance of Macon. during this 

1 Anuals of Congress, ad Cong , 2d Sess., 894-946. 

2 Annals of Congress, 3d Cong , 2d Sess., 1155 on. 



FIRST YEARS IN CONGRESS. 75 

session was against the bill granting a purse of 
four thousand dollars to the daughters of Count 
de Grasse, then living in Boston. So much has 
been said about the niggardliness of this sort of 
opposition on the part of Macon that the quoting 
of his speech is hardly out of place, since it sets 
forth his reasons for opposing the measure in the 
fewest possible words : "that though the claims 
of the petitioners were strong, yet they were not 
more so than those of multitudes of others. On 
the very day when we have come to a resolution, 
to receive no more petitions from our fellow citi 
zens, we are going to give at once so large a sum 
to foreigners. I am aware that the Count de Grasse 
has done eminent services to America, and I feel 
them as much as any person, but still I see no reason 
for preferring these petitioners when there are 
likely an hundred of the officers of de Grasse, or of 
Rochambeau s army, that are in this country and 
in want" 1 . There were many others in the coun 
try who felt as did Macon on this subject, though 
not many in Congress, for nearly all of his party 
voted for the gift to the de Grasse daughters, Madi 
son its leader, being a member of the committee 
which drew the bill. Macon stood so nearly alone 
in this that no record was made of the votes. 

Soon after the meeting of Congress in Novem 
ber preceding Macon had received a letter from 
General John Steele, who had been defeated two 
years before for Congress because of his supposed 
Federalist tendencies. This letter, as will be seen, 
contained a request for Macon s endorsement for 
some office to which he aspired, apparently Hawk- 
in s seat in the United States Senate. Macon s 
reply is characteristic. He very politely declined 
to sign with Grove, a strong Federalist, the certi- 

* Annals of Congress, sd Cong., 2d Sess., 1235. 



76 NATHANIEL MACON. 

ficate which had been sent him. Macon could not 
thus commit himself to a candidate who was, to 
say the least, not in agreement with his party. His 
reply is more carefully worded than usual and the 
expression of his opinion of Steele s candidacy is 
well enough covered up under the phrase "proper 
reflection and time will convince any one that you 
deserve well of the State." 

This letter deserves full quotation in view of the 
opinions expressed concerning his views and the 
state of parties at the time : "I am really sorry that 
it is not in my power to say a word on that sub 
ject or sign the certificate agreeable to your desire. 
Although I was not present when you made the 
speech, I remember perfectly well that you, Grove 
and myself agreed that the motion, w^iich occasioned 
it, was a very important one and that we agreed in 
sentiment on the subject, and as well as I recollect 
the speech contains the substance of our conversa 
tion on the subject of the motion except that I 
thought the constitution would not warrant the 
giving such power to the President though I would 
not have made the objection in the House for a 
reason before mentioned. On a bill of a similar 
nature last session I made objection of the same 
kind. Indeed I am certain that I never shall con 
sent to give such a power to any President (the 
privilege to lay an embargo in 1793). Grove and 
myself have examined the journals for the mes 
sage of the President, which you want, but have 
not been fortunate enough to find such a one, the 
other papers he will send you. 

"It appears to me that proper reflection and time 
will convince every one that you have deserved well 
of the State. It is said there are two parties in 
Congress, but that fact I do not positively know, if 
there are I know that I do not belong to either, but 



FIRST YEARS IN CONGRESS. 77" 

what is strange to tell, and at the same time must 
be a convincing proof that you acted independently, 
is, that there is good reason to believe that neither 
of these parties are desirous to see you here again." 1 

The State elections of 1794 were influenced 
chiefly by the stand the government had taken in 
1793 on the question of neutrality and more espe 
cially in North Carolina, where Timothy Blood- 
worth of New Hanover had resigned an office in 
the State government, because Governor Spaight 
had endorsed Washington s policy. Bloodworth had 
become the leader of an almost violent opposition 
to the neutrality proclamation in the Wilmington 
district. He " stood for the legislature," and was 
elected by a large majority. The people had sup 
ported him against Washington ! In the Assem 
bly, which met in the autumn, Bloodworth was at 
once made Speaker, and one year later, at the time 
of the Congressional elections, he was chosen to 
succeed Benjamin Hawkins, a special friend of 
Washington, in the United States Senate. 2 This, 
with the result of the general elections, showed the 
growing strength of the Republican party and 
caused Samuel Johnston to exclaim when he heard 
the reports : "O tempora, tempora !" And Wash 
ington, to help the cause of Federalism in the South, 
at once named Hawkins Indian Commissioner for 
the Southwest. John Macon was the leader, after 
Bloodworth, of the new forces in North Carolina 
politics. The leaders of the old regime lost power 
entirely and entrenched themselves, whenever it 
was possible, in Federal offices from one end of 
the State to the other. 

The new Congress which met in Philadelphia in 
November, 1795, was not of a temper altogether 

1 >tacon to General John Steele, Dec. n,i794 

2 Samuel Johnston to James Iredell, Feb. 14, 1795. 



78 NATHANIEL, MACON. 

pleasing to the ardent Federalists who had con 
trolled things in the last and who had become accus 
tomed to carry their measures by fair means or foul. 
The Federal party had identified the Democratic 
societies with the Republicans, and with the assist 
ance of the President these had been brought into 
complete disrepute. 1 

The West Pennsylvanians had been suppressed in 
a manner not likely to conciliate the opponents of 
the government, and most of the men, who now 
took their seats in the House, were determined to 
check the extravagance, as they thought, of the 
administration, notwithstanding the popularity of 
Washington. The Republicans were in a majority, 
quite a safe one at first. What had taken place at 
the polls in North Carolina had taken place in most 
of the States south of Connecticut. In Boston, 
New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Charleston, 
public meetings were held and every act of the 
President s foreign policy severely criticized. Add to 
this the effect of the extra session of the Senate, 
its defiant attitude toward public opinion, its rati 
fication of the Jay treaty June, 1795, by a strictly 
party vote, the riots in Philadelphia, which threat 
ened, as honest John Adams said, to break down 
the authority of the Government, and we have a 
notion of the excitement in the country and the 
determination of the new Congress to remedy 
things. It was not a tardy coming together that 
December as it had been when the previous Con 
gress met, when two long weeks were lost in get 
ting a quorum. Not a day was now lost, and what 
was more significant, a man whom most people took 
for an ardent Republican was chosen Speaker 
Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey. 

i Washington s Correspondence, sept. Oct., 1*64. 




CHAPTER IX. 

LEADER OF THE NORTH CAROLINA DELEGATION, 
I795-I799. 

Thomas Blount, Nathan Bryan, Jesse Franklin, 
"old Matthew Locke" and Absalom Tatom, with 
Nathaniel Macon as leader, constituted the chief 
men of North Carolina s delegation in the Congress 
of giants, which met in the old court house on the 
corner of Sixth and Chestnut streets in Philadelphia 
in December of 1795. It was to be the most nota 
ble congress in our history so far, as one of the 
most important of all. The delegation of which 
our hero was becoming the acknowledged leader 
was not composed of brilliant men, but plain, mid 
dle-class representatives, Southern Puritans, just 
such men as would have been good Abolitionists 
fifty years later, if they had lived in another section 
of the country. Jesse, Matthew, Absalom and 
Nathaniel were names which told the story of their 
birth and family; and they were men who believed 
in Bible doctrines and drew their illustrations from 
Hebrew history and were not apt to forget their 
belief or yield an inch to the "Powers of Evil." The 
regaining of control in North Carolina by those who 
had opposed the adoption of the National ^Constitu 
tion in 1788, which was completed during the years 
1 794- 95, brought the common people, Democrats 
of the country squire type, into places of public 
trust ; men whose education had not been good, and 
who knew nothing at all of international politics, 



80 NATHANIEL, MACON. 

but who had, all of them, been staunch Whigs in 
1776, and who had seen actual service in the war, 
or who had certainly never been suspected of giv 
ing comfort to the Tories. They were just such 
as the old politicians, statesmen even, could not 
bear to see in high places, and the mention of whose 
names brought visions of anarchy and the "rule of 
the many" to their cultured minds "mobocrats," 
"red Republicans," and "Jacobins," were the names 
they bore with Johnston, Iredell and Hooper. They 
did not pretend to know so much about statecraft, 
they could not have obtained entree to Lady Wash 
ington s parlors, but they knew the difference 
between the demands of popular institutions and 
special interests. And according to the testimony 
of many a student of American history, our genera 
tion has just cause to be thankful to those simple- 
minded, plain-looking country squires whom North 
Carolina sent to Congress in 1 794-^95 . 

To lead such a delegation was Macon s high call 
ing during the stormy years just ahead. Macon s 
experience and seniority of service in the National 
legislature (though he was only thirty-seven years 
old), and not his forensic ability or powers of man 
ipulation, gave him the first place among his col 
leagues. The first attack on the strongholds of the 
party in power was made by Parker of Virginia 
and Macon of North Carolina, when the response to 
the President s speech assumed its customary tone 
of fulsome flattery 1 . The response ran: "contem 
plating that probably unequalled spectacle of 
National happiness, which our country exhibits, to 
the interesting summary which you, sir, have been 
pleased to make, in justice to our own feelings, per 
mit us to add the benefits which are derived from 

i Annals of Congress, 4th Cong., ist Sess., 131. 



OF NORTH CAROLINA DELEGATION. 81 

your presiding in our councils, resulting as well 
from the undiminished confidence of your fellow citi 
zens as from your zealous and successful labors in 
their service." Macon objected to this language, 
and, with Parker, insisted that, not only should it 
be made less laudatory, but that the whole cere 
mony of the House proceeding in a body to pre 
sent their reply, as had formerly been the custom, 
should be modified or abolished altogether. He 
proposed that a committee of three be delegated to 
express to the President, in simple English, the 
good will of the House and the readiness of its 
members to cooperate with him in all measures look 
ing to the good of their common country. The 
plan gained ample support at once, and the reply 
to the President s address was chastened very con 
siderably, though not entirely displaced by a com 
mittee as suggested. This proposition to-day would 
appear to be a very reasonable one; but not so 
then. It caused a somewhat angry debate, and 
those who favored it were looked upon by its oppo 
nents very much as the German nobles regard the 
advocates of a proposition to abolish the standing 
army. But those days, though only a single cen 
tury has passed, were very different from ours ; the 
festive twenty-fifth of December came on and the 
members of Congress all remained at their posts 
until the twenty-fourth, which was on Thursday, 
when they adjourned until the following Monday- 
two days were all the holiday they gave themselves. 
The simple hearts of that day loved ceremony far 
more than a big holiday and bodily ease. 

The presentation to Congress by Adet, the French 
envoy, of a most handsomely wrought and fantas 
tic flag of the French Convention occupied Con 
gress some hours on the 4th January. This pledge 
6 



82 NATHANIEL MACON. 

of "everlasting friendship" was first sent to Wash 
ington, who detailed an American army officer to 
present it, with numerous messages from the Com 
mittee of Safety, to the Representatives of the 
American people. The message is in part as fol 
lows: "Citizens Representatives, the connections 
which nature, reciprocal events and a happy con 
currence of circumstances have formed between two 
free nations, can not but be indissoluble. You have 
strengthened those sacred ties by declarations, 
which the Minister Plenipotentiary of the United 
States has made in your name to the National Con 
vention and to the French people 1 . They have been 
received with rapture by a nation who know how 
to appreciate every testimony which the United 
States have given to them of their affection. The 
colors of both nations, united in the centre of the 
National Convention, will be an everlasting evidence 
of the part which the United States have taken in 
the success of the French Republic." (We had 
refused to take any part, as was known and talked 
everywhere.) 

"You were the first defenders of the rights of 
man in another hemisphere. Strengthened by your 
example, and endowed with an invincible energy, 
the French people have vanquished Tyranny, which, 
during so many centuries of ignorance, supersti 
tion and baseness, had enchained a generous nation." 
After much more of this kind, the message con 
cludes: "Doubt it not, Citizens, we shall finally 
destroy the combinations of tyrants. You, by the 
picture of prosperity, which, in your vast coun 
tries, has succeeded to a bloody struggle of eight 

* Monroe had presented the American fli* to the Convention, had 
made a fine speech on the occasion and had receive J therefor " a warm, 
fraternal embrace" from the president of that body. 



OF NORTH CAROLINA DELEGATION. 83 

years; we, by the enthusiasm which glows in the 
breast of every Frenchman. Astonished nations, 
too long the dupes of perfidious Kings, Nobles, and 
Priests will eventually recover their rights and the 
human race will owe to the American and French 
nations their regeneration and a lasting peace/ 
The reading of all this and much more took place 
in the hall of the Representatives and it pleased 
Macon heartily, though more because of the grim 
aces it produced on the faces of the Federalists than 
because of any response on his own part to so many 
happy French phrases. Macon had lost his French 
nature too completely to enjoy this declamation of 
his former countrymen. He was, however, a 
staunch advocate of the continued binding force of 
the French treaty of 1778 as North Carolinians gen 
erally were. On that issue the Radicals had gained 
the victory at the polls in 1794 and 95 ; and later 
when a bill was about to be passed by Congress, 
prohibiting the sale of French prizes in American 
ports, he opposed it, recommending a continuance of 
the privilege, notwithstanding the complications 
that might arise 1 . 

In the very beginning of the session, Giles pre 
sented to the House several resolutions and peti 
tions from the citizens of Virginia protesting against 
the British treaty which was expected soon to come 
before that body for final settlement. The question 
agitating the country and occupying the minds of 
politicians was: Can the Representatives veto the 
action of the President and Senate in the exercise 
of their constitutional functions, because the com 
pletion of those acts require an appropriation the 
granting of which is exclusively the right of the Rep 
resentatives ? The Federalists claimed they could 

1 Annals of Congress, 4th Cong., ist Sess., 1342. 



84 NATHANIEL MACON. 

not, and that it was presumption on the part of the 
House to interfere with the*treaty by refusing to 
make the necessary appropriation ; the Republicans, 
with Jefferson as their counsellor, believed to the 
contrary, and. were determined to defeat the 
enforcement of a treaty which they claimed sold us 
out to England. 

It would hardly be in place here to review the 
merits and demerits of the Jay treaty, more than to 
say that it was a partisan measure, and it was so 
regarded by all who took any part in politics. 
Washington had sent Chief Justice Jay to England 
as Special Envoy. Jay was strictly English in 
sentiment, and so looked upon by Congress, a 
man whose brother was an officer in the Eng 
lish army, and who had himself given proof 
enough of his own admiration for the politics of that 
country. When he appeared at Court, George III. 
received him graciously, remarking at the same 
time: "I am sure you can succeed in your mission." 
After the treaty was finally agreed upon Wash 
ington determined to have it become law by procla 
mation according to the custom, and so he was more 
than impatient at the threatened opposition of the 
House. But the Republicans came fresh from the 
people ; they believed it their duty to annul the pro 
ceedings of the Government and a partisan Senate, 
and they were decidedly in the majority, which, for 
the first time in our history, presented the specta 
cle of a government divided into opposite camps 
and thus rendered almost helpless. 

The long and bitter fight was begun by Living 
ston of New York, when he introduced on March 
2, 1796, a resolution calling on the President to 
submit to the House, before the appropriation could 
be voted, the secret papers and instructions relative 



OF NORTH CAROLINA DELEGATION. 85 

to Jay s mission. 1 From that time until March 3ist 
a fierce war of words was kept up, and it seemed 
to some that the Government would go to pieces ; 
but the resolution finally passed and Washington 
was called on for the papers. He refused peremp 
torily, which was the cause of no little glee among 
the opponents of the resolution. Until that time 
the President had maintained an absolute silence on 
the subject. This had annoyed and puzzled both 
parties. This refusal appeared to be a victory for 
the Federalists, since, as they were convinced, the 
influence of Washington given decidedly in their 
favor would so dishearten many of the Republicans 
as to cause them to give up their plan. The sub 
ject was opened again April I3th, when Sedgwick 
introduced a resolution providing for the appropria 
tions necessary to the execution of the Jay treaty; 
and for several others which were now all thrown to 
gether, according to ancient Roman log-rolling ma- 
noeuvers, in order to secure the money necessary for 
the one which was expected to be defeated. These 
extra treaties settled our relations (i) with the 
Indians on the Ohio, (2) with Algiers, (3) with 
Spain, all of which the Southern and Western mem 
bers were desirous of carrying into effect at once. 
The en bloc method was soon defeated by the 
Republican majority and each treaty was made to 
stand or fall according to its own merits. All were 
passed favorably in a single day except the one 
with Great Britain, and then came the test of party 
strength on the final and great measure of the ses 
sion. The debate lasted more than two weeks and 
there had never been a dispute in Congress which 
brought forward such an array of able disputants, 
or one in which more intense partizanship was tnan- 

i Annals of Congress, 4th Cong., ist Sess., 426. 



86 NATHANIEL MACON. 

ifested. The Republicans had begun the session 
with presenting petitions from their constituents; 
the Federalist petitions were introduced in ever 
increasing volume as the debate went on; Boston 
held town meetings against those Virginia leaders 
who disputed the right of the East to rule; New 
York had a riotous meeting and Philadelphia 
threatened to fall upon the members of the House 
and chase them from the city unless they made the 
necessary appropriation ; the English Charge des 
Affairs sent a message to the Federalists that post 
horses were held in readiness to carry an order for 
the evacuation of the posts which England held, 
contrary to former treaty stipulations within the 
bounds of the United States, if only the appropria 
tions were granted. When all these influences were 
bearing down upon the Republicans and when sev 
eral of their weak-kneed members were getting sick 
or receiving urgent messages to come home to see 
their wives, Fisher Ames of Massachusetts arose to 
make that famous and impassioned speech in favor 
of the treaty the address which so excited Judge 
Iredell, then on the Supreme Court bench, as to 
cause him to exclaim from the gallery of the House : 
"Great God, he s great!" and which brought from 
his companion, John Adams, an oath or two of 
praise. At the close of Ames address the Federal 
ists pressed the question for a vote, thinking the day 
had been won, but without success. The pressure 
had become so strong that still another Republi 
can, Patton from New Jersey, became ill ; Varnum, 
too, was absent; Freeman, a member from New 
Hampshire, who had voted with the Republicans 
in the beginning of the session, was away on leave, 
and Duvall s newly elected successor a Maryland 
Republican postponed taking his seat until a day 



OF NORTH CAROLINA DELEGATION. 87 

* 

or two after the vote. All this was thinning the 
ranks of the opposition while the Federalists were 
present in full strength. But Macon and every 
member of his delegation were present and moved 
a postponement of the final vote until the faint 
hearted could be comforted. Macon s motion for 
delay and the discussion of the ninth article of the 
treaty, which touched the interests of all North 
Carolinians living on the original Grenville lands, 
postponed matters for only one day when the yeas 
and nays on the Jay treaty showed fifty-one for 
the appropriation and forty-eight against. William 
Barry Grove of Cumberland was the only represen 
tative from North Carolina who voted for the 
treaty 1 . 

It was not because of Macon s public and con 
spicuous activity in this long debate that the subject 
has been gone over somewhat in detail ; but 
because he remained firm at his post and kept his 
friends in their position and on their guard. It is 
not a question of right or wrong, good policy or 
bad, that has been considered here, but the faithful 
ness of Macon to the creed he professed that of a 
strict constructionist and States-Rights man. By 
nature he would have been disposed to scrutinize 
very closely any call for an appropriation, but the 
question which he asked himself in this measure 
was: "Is it to the interests of North Carolinians?" 
just as most others were asking the same question 
whether they lived south or north of the line of 
Pennsylvania and Maryland. The only letter _ of 
his bearing on the events of that important session 
now extant was written from the Hall of the Repre 
sentatives, April 1 5th, 1796. After some remarks 
about the different treaties he says: "The British 

i Annals of Congress, 4th Cong , ist Sess., 1280-1292. 



88 NATHANIEL MACON. 







treaty is to be acted on to-day, and will, / suppose, 
produce some debating. It is very doubtful what 
the vote of the House will be on it. My opinion is 
that no vote in favor of it can be obtained. I have 
enclosed Col. Ashe 1 the debates on Mr. Livingston s 
motion to request certain papers from the Presi 
dent." 1 

The other matters in which Macon took active 
part during the closing days of the session were 
the admission of Tennessee as a State and the bill 
for increasing the salaries of public officers. He 
favored the admission of Tennessee with two Sena 
tors and two Representatievs, which latter would 
have been unusual and strictly speaking unlawful. 
The census of Tennessee showed a voting popula 
tion of sixty-seven thousand. The ratio of repre 
sentation was thirty-four thousand, which, if the 
census of the State was to be accepted, gave, with 
only one representative, an unrepresented fraction 
of thirty-three thousand. Macon claimed that two 
representatives ought to be allowed in view of this, 
and of course it was against his political creed to 
discredit, as some were doing, a census taken by 
order of a State, or even a prospective State 1 . The 
House disagreed and allowed the new State one 
representative until the next general census. On 
the subject of increased salaries, he favored a reduc 
tion rather than an increase. The argument that 
respectability of government official living and the 
need of entertaining distinguished foreigners had 
no influence with him. His claim was that the 
officers should live beneath their incomes and set 
the pace for a plain, simple life which might be an 
object lesson to those foreigners on account of 
whose visits so much was claimed. 

1 John Baptiste Ashe of Halifax. 

2 Macon to John R. Eaton, April 15, 1796. 

3 Annals of Congress, 4th Cong., ist Sess., 1818, 1474 



LEADER OF NORTH CAROLINA DELEGATION. 89 

The defeat of the Republicans on the Jay treaty 
was a sore disappointment to their leaders, but it 
was the cause of Jefferson s return to political life 
from which he had retired nearly three years be 
fore. He had watched closely the movements of 
the Federalists and counseled regularly the leaders 
of the opposition ; his advice at the beginning of 
the session had been to set aside the treaty by 
refusing the appropriation, which was "their right 
to do." Madison wrote him almost daily how mat 
ters stood, and still further, Madison had been 
suggesting to Jefferson, as early as December pre 
ceding, unpleasant truths" about the latter becom 
ing the Republican candidate for the Presidency. In 
fact a poll of Pennsylvania had been taken at the 
order of the Republicans in Congress for the pur 
pose of determining the party s strength with Jef 
ferson as its leader, which had shown the chances 
strongly in their favor. When the question of de 
feating the British treaty was decided adversely, 
Madison wrote at once to Jefferson representing 
that he alone could bring success to their cause. 
Monroe, who was still in Paris, was informed of 
this plan. In June Jefferson decided to enter the 
race and in July he wrote most hopefully to Mon 
roe about the hasty coming of the day of relief. 1 

Macon remained in Philadelphia through all the 
closing days of the session, when only a bare quo 
rum of members were in their seats, paying atten 
tion to the long, dry reports of the Finance Com 
mittee on the condition of the Treasury. It was a 
part of his creed to be present every day in the ses 
sion. June ist, after the adjournment of Congress, 
he set out for Buck Spring, where he was accus- 

i See author s thesis : Jefferson s Rueckkehr zur Politik in 1796. Leip 
zig, 1899- 



90 NATHANIEL MACON. 

tomed to take the place of a regular field hand dur 
ing the summer. And it is significant that his 
letters are at all times as much given up to com 
ments on the state of the crops, work on the planta 
tion and the condition of the markets as were those 
of Washington himself. 

It is not probable that Macon returned to North 
Caroling that June without knowing the plans of 
Madison, Giles and Gallatin, another rising star in 
the Republican firmament, as to the Presidential 
election which was coming on, and such good politi 
cians as Jefferson s followers were not likely to 
leave him in the dark or to leave room for any mis 
understandings. North Carolina was, during the 
decade following 1789, an uncertain State in a 
presidential election, and for the reason that the 
ablest men, with the exception of Willie Jones, were 
contesting with the popular leaders the control of 
affairs. Johnston and his friends, with the mighty 
leverage of Washington s name, were not easily rele 
gated to a back seat. During the summer and early 
autumn months, the party of Jefferson was at work 
throughout the country; in North Carolina, its 
leaders were the same as of old, for Willie Jones 
was again a candidate for a seat in the Assembly. 
John Macon was a leader in the State Senate ; Tim 
othy and Thomas Bloodworth, in the Wilmington 
district, were directing things according to Jeffer 
son s plans. In the election of 1792, North Caro 
lina s vote, as has been seen, had been given unani 
mously to Washington for President, and to Clin 
ton, of New York, for Vice-President ; in 1796 
it was thought the Federalists could secure four of 
the electoral votes to Adams, and every effort was 
made to do this, but without avail. Six votes in 
all were now asked of the South for Adams, but as it 



NORTH CAROLINA DELEGATION. 91 

turned out only two were given : one from Virginia 
and one from North Carolina, all the others being 
cast for Thomas Jefferson. The Radicals won, and 
very much to the chagrin of some of the best men 
in the country. John Marshall deplored, in a let 
ter to Iredell, this disposition of North Carolinians 
to follow the erratic course of his own State. 1 In 
producing this result, there can be no doubt that 
the leader of the State s delegation in the House 
had a share, though, there appears nowhere any 
record of his activity in that first trial of strength 
between Adams and Jefferson. 

Washington s address delivered to the Houses 
at the beginning of the next session, reminding men 
as it did of his final withdrawal from public life, 
occasioned "a. good deal of debate. The Federalists, 
making use for the last time, as they thought, of 
his great popularity, were anxious to carry the reply 
to the greatest extreme of adulation, mixing in, at 
the same time, as much as possible of their politics. 
The Republicans would not risk, as was thought, the 
semblance of opposition, lest their actions should 
excite violent criticism. But Macon and eleven 
others had the hardihood to brave public opinion 
and vote against the address on the ground of its 
being too laudatory. 2 Among those who voted 
with Macon was a tall, thin, dark-visaged man, 
some years before a country school teacher in the 
neighborhood of Salisbury, North Carolina, but now 
Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee. Macon had helped 
bring that cadaverous-looking backwoodsman into 
the House by vigorously advocating the admission of 
Tennessee at a former session. The two men were 
much alike in character, though they were not to 

1 Iredell s I/fe and Correspondence, by McKee, II., 482. 

2 Annals of Congress, 4th Cong., ad Sess., 1668 



92 NATHANIEL MACON. 

discover this until forty years later, when the Ten- 
nesseean declared from the President s chair ever 
lasting war on .the United States Bank. For the 
present the man with his hair tied up in an eel-skin 
was content to express himself in a sarcastic 
remark about Washington and by a negative vote 
which was to Macon, perhaps, a recommendation 
for independence. To the great majority of the 
Representatives it was an exceedingly bad begin 
ning. Macon s opposition to the address was in 
keeping with his past policy ; he respected and hon 
ored Washington, eulogized him to the highest 
degree as long as he lived, though he never claimed 
him as a kinsman, as he might have done. The 
address really expressed a declaration in the first 
paragraph, and others in the last, which reflected 
on Macon s whole political career, and he was too 
honest to vote for a measure, with a Jesuitical reser 
vation in mind, to avoid criticism. The resolutions 
contained in the address expressed what the Repub 
licans could not admit, and if blame attaches to any 
one on this point, it is not to the twelve negative 
voters. 

The first object of Macon s special displeasure in 
the short session of Congress was Washington s 
plan of a National university. Madison reported 
from the committee appointed to take into consid 
eration the part of Washington s address recom 
mending the establishment of such an institution, 
the following resolution : "That it is at present 
expedient that authority should be given to enroll 
proper persons to receive in trust pecuniary dona 
tions in aid of the donations already given, toward 
the establishment of a university within the District 
of Columbia." Madison argued in favor of the 
resolution, claiming that Congress was in no way 



OF NORTH CAROLINA DELEGATION. 93 

called on to obligate itself to its support ; that it was 
only to enable gifts of private individuals to be 
accepted and applied. He stated that the State of 
Virginia had given Washington fifty shares in the 
Potomac Canal Company, which he refused to 
accept for his own use, but which he did accept to 
be used in the cause of education, and that Wash 
ington now offered these shares to such an institu 
tion as the resolution contemplated. Madison added 
that others were offering lands for the same pur 
pose. Livingston, of New York, changed his atti 
tude after hearing this statement, and others were 
in favor of appointing trustees for "an university 
in the District of Columbia," so that the plan 
seemed about to be agreed to ; but a motion to post 
pone the subject prevailed by a vote of thirty-seven 
to thirty-six, and Washington s gift was refused. 
It was turned in another direction, and became the 
nucleus of the endowment of Washington College, 
now Washington and Lee University, in Virginia. 
Macon opposed the University, not because of indif 
ference to higher education, but from repugnance to 
increasing the national establishment, and from a 
fear that it would somehow or other necessitate an 
appropriation. 1 Giles and Venable, of Virginia, 
opposed the plan from similarly overstrained notions 
of States rights. 

At this session the Connecticutt members made a 
vigorous effort, in the form of a resolution, to 
compel the numerous debtor states (states which, 
in the assumption of State debts by the Union, were 
left with balances due the old confederacy now due 
the United States) to pay their arrears into the 
treasury. North Carolina s debt to the Union was 

1 Annals of Congress, 4th Cong , 2d Sess., 1698-1711. 

2 Annals of Congress, 4th Cong., 2<3 Sess., 1813-1816. 



94 NATHANIEL MACON. 

$501,000, with interest for three years; New York 
owed more than two million. 2 There was a strong 
sentiment in North Carolina that this debt was not 
fairly estimated which, in fact, was not without 
foundation. Macon made several short speeches 
against the proposed plan of compelling payment, 
and he was joined by Dempsey Burges, his col 
league, in an enthusiastic, if not very wise, plea for 
North Carolina and in favor of the sentiment pre 
vailing there against payment. He closed as fol 
lows: " North Carolina, far removed from the 
seat of public information, and with little advan 
tage of frequent commercial intercourse, had not 
the opportunity of equal benefit from the pittance 
of the rigid economy which her agents had left her 
citizens. With honest indignation, she now reflects 
that her public securities are swept away by foreign 
ers and citizens who, with more prompt information, 
perverted her every village and almost every farm 
as the enemy in time of war, and with little less 
fatality and almost without money and without 
price. * * * 

"North Carolina, sir, claims, her representatives 
conceive, she may with modest decency, that the 
claims contained in the resolution on your table, if 
not relinquished, should be suspended. 1 * * * 

Burges expressed the views of the North Carolina 
delegation when he declared that the claims against 
the State should be relinquished, though not all 
had such confused notions about the foundation on 
which those claims were based. These lines quoted 
from Burges, as they were directed to his constitu 
ents, show also how the people of his State felt, 
and that they were prejudiced against any claim of 
the United States on account of the sharp manoeu- 

* Annals of Congress, 4th Cong , 2d Sess., 1800-1801. 



LEADER OF NORTH CAROLINA DELEGATION. 1)5 

vers of Northern financiers in getting possession of 
the State securities just prior to the passage of the 
Assumption Bill in 1/90. New York joined North 
Carolina in the protest against the above-named 
resolution, and these, with the general support of the 
Southerners, postponed indefinitely a measure 
threatening at that time so much commotion, partic- 
marly in New York, where the debt was so great. 

Nicholas J. Roosevelt, the present President s 
great uncle, and Jacob Mark had presented a peti 
tion to Congress nearly a year before this, asking 
for protection in the mining and manufacture of 
iron. They had engaged miners and workers in 
Europe, and had brought them to America with a 
view to establishing the proposed industry on a firm 
basis. A committee of Congress considered their 
application, and reported a resolution in their favor, 
recommending the giving to them of any mines they 
might discover and open on the public lands of the 
United States, and further guaranteeing them undis 
turbed possession for years, "the said 

applicants to render an equitable proportion of the 
gross products to the government as a co-partner." 
Henderson, of New Jersey, and Gallatin were will 
ing to grant the protection asked ; but Macon, alto 
gether at variance from the policy of his party in 
North Carolina, opposed the resolution, saying "such 
a resolution would give a monopoly of all the 
mines of the United States. The best policy, I 
believe, in all such cases is to leave the business to 
the industry of our citizens. They will work the 
mines if it is to their interest to do so ; if not, I do 
not want to offer them any inducement to do it." 1 
This was outlining in the fewest possible words the 
policy of his later political life, as well as the policy 

1 Annals of Congress, 4th Cong., ad Sesp.. 1819-1820. 



5/1) NATHANIEL MACON. 

of one of our great political parties for many years. 
The Republican party was, however, at that time, 
as has been noted, advocating a protective tariff 
policy for infant industry, and at home, Macon him 
self would have voted for bounties to such begin 
ners in any promising undertaking. 

In the long debates of this session on direct and 
/indirect taxation, Ai^cun took no part, though he 
\ was in principle favorable to direct taxes the same 
that Jefferson constantly advocated but never 
attempted to put into practice, iku wucii those most 
pathetic petitions of some emancipated negroes from 
North Carolina, praying relief from persecution un 
der a recent statute of the State against their free 
dom were presented, he rather reluctantly spoke 
against their reception by the House. The Nich 
olson negroes, for such were their names, with 
two others from Eastern North Carolina, had been 
given their freedom by their masters; but when 
a stricter policy regarding the manumission of 
slaves was adopted, and a law passed allowing 
any one to take up negroes to whose freedom the 
State had not consented, and sell them into slavery 
again, they had been compelled to flee the State 
or go back into bondage. They were then in 
Philadelphia, and asking the interference of Con 
gress. Macon said : " No man wishes to encour 
age petitions more than I, and no man has con 
sidered the subject more. These men can not re- 
- ceive any aid from the general government ; but 
by application to the State, justice will be done 
them. Trials of this kind have very frequently been 
brought on in all the different Courts of that State, 
and very often they have ended in the freedom of 
the slaves. I think it a very delicate subject for 
the general government to act on : and I shall not 
be sorry if the petition is sent back." This some- 



OF NORTH CAROLINA DELEGATION. 97 

what heartless view was Macon s life-long policy 
on this subject. 

Macon was again active when the proposition for 
increasing the salaries of the President and mem 
bers of Congress came up. Salaries were large 
enough, he thought; the principle of increasing 
them did not suit him, and he was fond of saying, 
"I oppose the plan in toto." In order to defeat it, 
he moved for postponement till March 4, when the 
session would close by limitation ; but Gallatin came 
to his aid, and a speedy vote was secured against 
the bill, the yeas and nays being requested by its 
opponents. 2 But this was not to be the end of 
Macon s opposition to the increasing of salaries ; for 
on the day following the counting of the votes for 
President and Vice-President, a resolution was 
introduced and passed requiring a committee to be 
appointed to inquire into the state of the President s 
household furniture and report any needs. And 
Macon s friend, Sedgwick, was appointed chairman 
of the committee. Everybody knew at once what 
kind of report would be made. On February 25 a 
bill was introduced recommending fourteen thou 
sand dollars for repairing and improving the furni 
ture for the President-elect as soon as Washington 
retired. Honest farmer Macon began to see how 
desirous some people were for money. He had 
never charged a cent more than his actual mileage, 
when he had the privilege of collecting double 
mileage. His six dollars a day was amply suffi 
cient for meeting his expenses while attending the 
sessions of Congress, and so he could not under 
stand how others could not get along on their 
allowances. As was to be expected, he spoke out 

1 Annals of Congress, 4th Cong., ad Bess,, 2023. 

2 Annals of Congress, 4th Cong., 2d Sess., 2104-2105. 



98 NATHANIEL MACON. 

against the bill, and more than once. He reviewed 
the whole practice of furnishing apartments for the 
Presidents of the old Congress, declaring that that 
officer received no salary, and that furnishing him 
apartments was but natural. Sitgreaves wished to 
correct him by pointing out the fact that the Presi 
dent of Congress had received eighty-three thou 
sand dollars in two years to supply his household; 
but Macon immediately replied with the question, 
"What sort of money?" which was enough to call 
to mind the picture of the worthless Continental 
paper which went begging everywhere at that time, 
and in which the officer in question had been paid. 
He added a little later, when Smith, of New Hamp 
shire was trying to convince the members how 
small a sum had been asked, "I do not know how 
it can require fourteen thousand dollars to repair 
furniture which at first cost only thirteen thousand." 
The bill passed, though, by a vote of sixty-three to 
twenty-seven, all the North Carolina delegates, good 
farmers that they were, voting with the minority. 1 

The opposition of Macon to almost all appropria 
tion bills had given him something of a name 
already, and it drew to him all those simple-lived 
men like himself who represented the small farmer 
districts in the South and West. His opposition 
was such that most of those who disagreed with him 
took pains in their speeches to refer respectfully to 
his arguments. There was a tendency from the 
very beginning of the new government to extrava 
gance; the members of Congress managed their 
mileage so adroitly that it amounted to more than 
a third of their pay for a whole session s attendance. 
Twenty-six thousand for mileage and seventy-six 
thousand for attendance on the session showed how 

i Annals of Congress, 4th Cong., 2d Sess., 2307-2319. 



LEADER OF NORTH CAROLINA DELEGATION. 99 

men could manage to increase their bills against the 
government when there was a fair excuse. No man 
scrutinized these items of expense more closely than 
the plain gentleman from Buck Spring, who never 
in his life presented an account to the government 
for a dollar more than he would have expected 
from an individual. 1 

The extra session of Congress convened by a 
proclamation of President Adams in May, 1797, for 
the purpose of putting the country in a state of 
defence, was disappointing in the extreme to the 
Federalists, who desired to organize an artillery 
corps, to strengthen fortifications and call out more 
men to man them, to build nine ships of war, and to 
provide for a provisional army, subject to the Pres- , 
ident s call. In short, a strong Federalist program 
was offered, calling for a general system of taxation. 
This system was to take the form of duties on 
imported wines and liquors, on salt and paper, parch 
ment, etc. 2 

Macon opposed the fortifications as unnecessary, 
recommending the removal of men in the well- 
equipped forts to the weaker and endangered ones. 
But contrary to what might have been expected of 
such a staunch States rights man, he favored the 
unqualified granting by the States to the United 
States of the lands on which forts were built. At 
the time this extreme friend gf State sovereignty 
was acting rather liberally, the representatives of the 
extremely national State of Massachusetts refused 
to grant to the general government the possession 
of her fortifications, refusing also to accept supplies 
from any outside source. 3 Macon furthermore 
opposed the equipment of additional artillery corps, 

1 1,etter of Macon to the North Carolina Assembly, Nov. 14, 1828, 
= Annals of Congress, sth Cong., Extra Sess., 390 ; Schouler, I., 366. 
3 Annals of Congress, sth Cong., Extra Sess., 302. 



100 NATHANIEL MACON. 

and would not think of supporting the measure for 
a provincial army, but favored as a substitute, a 
bill calling on the States for a national militia. A 
bill looking towards this end was proposed by 
Blount and McDowell, members from North Caro 
lina, and heartily approved by their colleagues. 1 
This measure was meant as a means of defence 
which should at the same time not be subject entirely 
to the orders of the President, or, in other words, 
its advocates would avoid the establishment of an 
odious standing army, which it was claimed the 
Federalists desired. On the subject of increasing 
the navy, Macon was not to be moved, no matter 
how threatening the attitude of foreign powers; 
and, when the bill for calling into service some large 
frigates seemed about to pass, he offered a substi 
tute for a clause of the bill which directed the Presi 
dent to use the proposed ships of war wherever his 
judgment directed. The Macon substitute, which 
was first ruled out of order but finally accepted, pre 
scribed the use to which the vessels should be put, 
i. e., the President was not to send them outside of 
American waters except as convoys to trading ves 
sels in threatened seas. In a short time he changed 
-his opinion about the convoying of fleets of trading 
vessels, opposing the plan altogether, lest that be 
used as a n excuse for sending the warships abroad ; 
as it finally appeared, then, the new frigates, the 
number of which was reduced to three instead of 
nine, as formerly called for, were not under any 
conditions to leave the American coasts. This was 
tying the President s hands with a vengeance, and 
when the bill came before the Senate it was almost 
immediately returned with this clause rejected. The 
Senate also objected to the other Republican fea- 

i Anna s of Congress, sth Cong., Extra Sess., 322 on 



LEADER OF NORTH CAROLINA DELEGATION. 101 

tures of the measure. A compromise on the 
amended parts of the bill was finally agreed upon, 
and the three ships, "United States," "Constitution" 
and "Constellation," were allowed to be built and 
placed at Adams disposal in a restricted sense. 
These ships became the nucleus of our navy, 1 and 
did fine service against England in the war of 1812- 
1815. 

Considerable sectional feeling was manifested in 
the debates on these amendments. The Republi 
cans opposed the Federalist program, because it 
granted protection to trade which, as they said, was 
chiefly a private interest, and therefore not a sub 
ject for national legislation. The Eastern mem 
bers of the House were enraged at the determined 
resistance of Republicans south and west, claiming 
that it was a narrow agrarian policy which actuated 
their opponents. Samuel Sewall, of Massachusetts, 
declared : "Gentlemen who depend upon agricul 
ture for everything, need not put themselves to the 
expense of protecting the commerce of the country ; 
commerce is able to protect itself if they will only 
suffer it to do so. Let those States which live by 
commerce be separated from the confederacy. I 
have in mind those people who live by commerce, 
and I can not concede that they live by the mere 
good-will of the Union. Let them be abandoned, 
but let it be done before they are reduced to poverty 
and wretchedness. Their collected industry and 
property are equal to their own protection, and let 
other parts of the confederacy take care of them 
selves." To which Macon replied that that was 
such language as he had never before heard in the 
House. 2 

1 Annals of Congress, sth Cong., Extra Sess., 364-366 ; Schouler I., 366. 

2 Annals of Congress, sth Cong., Extra Sess., 385. 



102 NATHANIEL MACON. 

Sewall was ruled out of order, but he was the only 
man who was strictly in order. The two parties had 
been at daggers drawn for weeks, but no one con 
fessed the real cause of their dispute until Sewall 
could contain himself no longer and spoke out his 
thoughts. From the very day the government went 
into operation, even long before, the line of cleavage 
between parties had been drawn by agriculture and 
commerce, the two conflicting interests of the coun 
try. The establishment of an agricultural aristoc 
racy, if the word must be used in describing men of 
affairs in those days, or the establishment of a com 
mercial aristocracy, were the questions at issue. 
The Constitution itself represented a drawn battle 
between these forces, and as soon as it became the 
highest law of the land, binding alike on both par 
ties, each began seeking allies to strengthen itself in 
order to g ain control of the government and inter 
pret in its own interest the instrument of their com 
promise; commerce sought, through Hamilton, the 
aid of capitalized wealth ; agriculture opposed, and 
rallied to itself the powerful influences of democratic 
ideas which were at that time epidemic throughout 
the western world. England, the commercial country 
of Europe, naturally came to the help of her elder 
daughter, New England, and with this came neces 
sarily the revival of the essentially English political 
institutions in America, and the building up of an 
English party; France, the hereditary foe of Eng 
land, attempted a similar alliance with the South, 
and so men formed Jacobin clubs and wore the red 
cockade Federalist vs. Republican parties. These 
two forces met together in Pennsylvania the 
recruiting field for both and the final outcome of 
the election of 1796 had depended on the turn the 
struggle took there amongst a motley population of 



OF NORTH CAROLINA DELEGATION. 103 

Connecticutt Yankees, Virginia backwoodsmen, 
English Quakers and South German Protestants. 1 
When Washington, the great neutral character in 
National politics, retired in 1797, the way was 
cleared, and both parties began -the race for a victory 
in 1800. Macon was one who had wished Washing 
ton well in his retirement, and was evidently not 
unwilling to see him out of the way. This extra 
session of the Fifth Congress was one stage on the 
way toward 1800, and all the debating and hot 
words about ships, armies and tariff duties were not 
so much directed for and against Adams as for and 
against the creed he stood for commercialism. 
Sewall named the real subject in dispute, the control 
of the government, which was to come out again 
and again in Macon s political life and under the 
most different names : War with England, National 
Banks and Protective Tariff, Slavery, Nullification, 
and finally, twenty-five years after his death, Civil 
War and Reconstruction victory of an economic 
principle and not of idealism and agitation. 

i Annual Register, 1796, p. 90. 



CHAPTER X. 

MACON AND THE FEDERALIST SUPREMACY, 
I797-I8OI. 

The Federalists came together at the beginning of 
the regular session of Congress, in November, 1797, 
determined to have things their own way, and they 
had been partially united by the trend of events dur 
ing the summer : France had been seizing New Eng 
land ships on the high seas, and the Directory had 
refused to recognize Pinckney, the new American 
envoy, because he was "an aristocrat" ; England, too, 
was still complicating the situation by the most ill-ad 
vised disregard of the rights of neutrals ; Hamilton, 
the Federalist s beau ideal, had been forced into a 
confession of an adulterous connection with the wife 
of a \vorthless wretch employed at one time in the 
Treasury Department, in order to prove himself in 
nocent of what he regarded as a worse crime, that of 
misappropriating public funds ; Monroe had returned 
from France in disgrace, but was given a public 
dinner in Philadelphia, with the Governor and Chief 
Justice of Pennsylvania and other high officials 
attending ; the violently partisan papers, the Monitor 
and the Minerva, the Aurora and the National 
Gazette, were keeping alive all the quarrels, scandals 
and animosities of angry politicians, and in the 
midst of all this and somewhat in triumphant dig 
nity, sat Jefferson, the most hated opponent of the 
administration, secure in the Vice-President s chair, 
there to \vatch and profit by all the blunders of a 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 105 

majority none too well agreed among themselves. 
Still further, the Federalists felt the chagrin of fail 
ure at the last session a failure caused also by the 
lack of unity and harmony in their own councils. 1 

And the Republicans were not better satisfied; 
one of their number, William Blount, of Tennessee, 
had been proven guilty of treason ; the meddling of 
the French Minister Adet in political affairs, the in 
defensible behavior of France toward American sea 
men, and, besides, the shifting, vacillating policy of 
some of their own members in Congress, who, as 
Jefferson himself said, "governed by the panic or 
prowess of the moment, flapped as the breeze blew, 
now to the one side, now to the other." 2 And the 
disappointment and bitterness of parties increased 
when these disappointed men came together; for 
at that time the foreign dangers of the immediate 
future seemed suddenly to increase, while the fail 
ure of great business houses and the utter ruin of 
credit darkened the prospects of individuals and 
government alike. Robert Morris, the financial 
wizard of the Revolution, succumbed and was com 
pelled to lie in the jails of Philadelphia for many 
long months because of inability to pay his debts. 
And to make matters worse in the eyes of decent 
people, these representatives of the people, at the 
very beginning of the session, fell to wrangling over 
the miserable and disgraceful personal encounter 
between two members: Griswold, Federalist, of 
Connecticut^ and Lyon, Republican, frorn^ Ver 
mont. This encounter began with Lyon spitting in 
Griswold s face, in the presence of the whole House, 
was kept up by cuffs and blows, with canes and fire 
tongs, off and on for two days, and ended, after 

1 SchdUler, I., 369-381. 

2 Jefferson s Writings, June 1797 ; Schouler, I., 369-381. 



106 NATHANIEL, MACON. 

weeks of debate and vain attempts at expulsion, in 
the House finally binding both under oath to keep 
peace during the remainder of the session. 

This was not an encouraging spectacle to the 
people who looked forward every day to dangers of 
the gravest kind ; and the members themselves must 
have been heartily ashamed of coming together a 
month earlier than usual for the purpose of attend 
ing to the pressing affairs of the nation only to join 
in angry disputes and wranglings over a matter 
which would have excited only ridicule on the 
meanest street of the meanest town in the country. 
One month of time and thousands of dollars were 
spent in settling a dispute which any country magis 
trate could have settled in thirty minutes. It looked, 
indeed, to many as if partisanship were going to 
wreck the National Government; yet every man 
from the philosophic Gallatin down to the latest 
comer had a voice in this small business. 

Macon took a lively interest in this Lyon affair, 
because, like the others, he saw that the opponents 
of Lyon were demanding his expulsion in order to 
get rid of a disagreeable Republican. Lyon had 
begun his career in Congress at the previous session 
by asking to be excused from joining the procession 
of the House to the President s house on the occa 
sion of the reply to the annual message. At this 
session he asked rather impertinently to be excused 
again from waiting on the President, which brought 
on some sarcastic debate because, as some one 
remarked, this exception declared that the others 
were "making fools of themselves." Macon favored 
the granting of Lyon s request, because, as he said, 
the House waited on the President out of respect 
for that officer, and respect must always be voluntary, 
besides the House had no power to compel a mem- 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 107 

ber to parade himself on the streets of Philadelphia. 
Later, when the vote for the expulsion of Lyon for 
his insult to Griswold, which certainly was pro 
voked, was about to be taken, Macon declared the 
punishment too great for the offense, that he would 
as soon be hanged as expelled in that way from a 
seat in the House, 1 but after the second encounter 
between Lyon and Griswold, brought on by the 
latter, he favored the expulsion of both members, 
which, however, could not be done, since a two- 
thirds vote is required to expel, which neither party 
had ; and besides the Federalists were not willing to 
pair Griswold with Lyon, who, to be sure, made a 
sorry figure among his aristocratic friends from 
Virginia. 

The first speech of considerable length Macon 
made in Congress was on the Nicholas resolution 
for curtailing the expense of foreign intercourse. 
Adams had called for a larger sum than usual for 
that item of the budget; he had secured a recom 
mendation from Washington to the Senate that his 
son, John Quincy, a briefless attorney, only twenty- 
four years old, should be appointed Minister to 
Prussia, and the Senate had approved, but the coun 
try was not convinced that merit alone actuated the 
President. Nicholas, of Virginia, moved a resolu 
tion for retrenchment by abolishing the post at Ber 
lin and reducing the allowances for other diplomatic 
establishments. Macon declared, what was no 
doubt true to him, that all the foreign ministers who 
had been in this country from July 4, 1776, to his 
day had done more harm than ours abroad had done 
good; that he was almost ready to abolish the for 
eign establishments altogether; he had heard it 
declared that Jefferson s disappointment in the 

i Annals of Congress, sth Cong., 2d Sess., 962, 1008. 



108 NATHANIEL MACON. 

recent election had inspired Nicholas motion, and 
that the Southerners were supporting that sentiment 
of the Vice-President, that these Southern Republi 
cans were even attempting to overthrow the Govern 
ment. "I will not," he continued, "boast of what 
the Southern States have done, but certainly I may 
say what they have not done: they have not been 
promoters of banks, funding and excise systems, 
Stamp Acts, and so forth." He closed by "assert 
ing that the House had a right to regulate the sala 
ries of foreign ministers, though it could not be 
denied the President had the sole prerogative of say 
ing to what courts they should be sent. It was the 
authority to originate and lay taxes by the House 
which he cited in this case, as he had_done in the 
Jay treaty controversy a year before. The larger 
portion of the speech, however, dealt with the 
charges of partisanship on the one side or the other, 
which he thought a disgrace to the House. Adams 
disposition to appoint only Federalists to office, 
Macon criticized as a flagrant abuse of power. He 
opposed the appointing of men to office except on 
the grounds of merit and capacity to serve the pub 
lic. 1 Later on we shall see that he modified, though 
very modestly indeed, this policy. Nicholas reso 
lution was finally defeated by a majority of four 
votes, one member only of the North Carolina dele 
gation voting with the majority. 2 

While the two parties were measuring arms in 
the House, and the measures of Government were 
dragging heavily along under the great burden of 
political animosity, a new issue was preparing. 
March 5, 1798, Adams, thoroughly disappointed at 
the treatment his representatives had received at the 

1 Annals of Congress, sth Cong., 2d Sess., 1111-1113, 

2 Annals of Congress, 5th Cong., ad Sess., 1234. 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 109 

hands of Talleyrand, and convinced that his olive 
branch of the preceding spring was about to be 
returned unaccepted, sent a message to Congress 
which let it clearly be seen that war was not only 
probable in the near future, but the fixed policy of 
the administration. 1 Fourteen days later he warned 
the House that a bold, united front should be 
shown to France ; "zeal, vigor and concert in defence 
of the national rights, proportioned to the danger 
with which we are threatened." 

The Cabinet decided on a declaration of war, 
published the President s message with the corre 
spondence of the envoys, which caused intense 
excitement throughout the land. The Federalists, 
with Hamilton s assistance, began to press measures 
calling for ten more ships of war, an increase of the 
army to fifty thousand besides the militia; efficient 
fortifications, a new revenue system, and the abroga 
tion of the treaty of 1778 with France. The Senate 
readily assented to all the plans of the Executive. 
Outside influence which should overcome all oppo 
sition was again, as in 1796, to be brought to bear 
on the House. The Republican s following Jeffer 
son s advice, recommended an adjournment, in order 
that they might learn the will of the people ; but the 
Senate scouted the idea. The opponents of war 
with France held a caucus, and outlined a policy, 
which Spriggs, of Maryland, offered in the House 
on the 23d of March: (i) It was inexpedient to 
bring on war with France; (2) arming merchant 
vessels ought to be restricted; (3) protection of sea 
coasts and internal defence should be adequately 
provided for small concessions indeed to the major 
ity. In order the more completely to overwhelm 
the Republicans and set them in the wrong before 

i Annals of Congress, sth Cong., ad Sess., 1201. 



110 NATHANIEL MACON. 

the people, the Federalists in the House called on 
the President for the secret correspondence bearing 
on the treatment of the American ministers in Paris. 
The Cabinet readily responded, and the X Y Z 
papers were given to the world. 1 These papers 
proved conclusively that France had attempted to 
bribe the American government into supporting that 
country against England. The administration at 
once became popular and received the heartiest 
assurances of support from all parts of the country. 
The President became enthusiastic as a boy, and 
enjoyed to heart s content the returning popularity, 
which was not undeserved, and which he so much 
coveted. 

Macon s share in the lively debates which fol 
lowed was comparatively small. Before the excite- 
inent^ was full grown, and when the question of 
building and equipping a navy was being discussed 
under the head of protection to trade, he made a 
second set speech on the subject, in which he said 
if the Federalists desired war, let a declaration of 
war be proposed, and men would know how to vote ; 
"for a fighting peace our measures are too strong, 
and for war too weak. Some strange charges have 
been made against men who are desirous of preserv 
ing the peace as long as possible, such as being under 
the French influence. These charges are not made 
to have an influence here, but out of doors, where the 
characters of persons charged are not known. Gen 
tlemen talk about compelling Congress to act. If 
one were to be compelled to act, of what use was it 
for his constituents to send him here. I assure that 
gentleman (Dana, of Connecticutt) that I will not 
be compelled to act (referring to outside influ 
ence)." 2 He thus resented again and again the 

1 Schouler, I., 398-399. 

2 Annals of Congress, sth Cong., 2d Sess., 1506-1507. 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. Ill 

charges that members of his party were under the 
influence of French diplomats as for himself he had 
"never known a half dozen Frenchmen." When the 
bill for a provisional army was before the House, he 
spoke once more, recurring to his favorite militia 
plan, which he declared to be amply sufficient in any 
crisis He was highly indignant at the plan of send 
ing troops into the Southern States where, it was 
charged, there were neither troops nor disposition 
to raise them. 1 

Gallatin, one of the noblest men on the floor of the 
House, and perhaps the ablest, had now become 
leader of the Republicans. He had outshone Madi 
son as a speaker, and as a logical thinker he was 
equal to all the intricate financiering schemes of 
Hamilton, and of Wolcott, his agent and protege. 
When Madison, on Jefferson s elevation to the Vice- 
President s chair, had retired to the Virginia Legis 
lature, there to keep that State true to "Republican 
ism," as Jefferson insisted on saying, "until the 
people could be aroused to a sense of their danger," 
he had taken up officially the leadership of the oppo 
sition. Gallatin was a Genevese who had emigrated 
to this country before the Revolution, fought for the 
Americans, was afterwards elected to the United 
States Senate, where he was refused admittance 
because he was not a Federalist; elected in 1795 to 
the House, he soon became influential, and was now 
the powerful champion of the opinions which the 
Vice-President could not, by the nature of his office, 
advocate in the Senate. Macon seems to have 
acquired a respect and admiration for this Republi 
can friend from Pennsylvania which he never lost, 
and which, as will be seen further on, ripened into a 
life-long intimacy. But the opposition was unable 

i Annals of Congress, sth Cong., 2d Sess., 1537. 



XATHANIEI, MACON. 

to stem the tide which was setting in against it, no 
matter how able and determined its leaders. The 
war spirit was abroad in the land, and those who 
remember the foolish doings and sayings of the peo 
ple just prior to the Spanish- American war, will not 
fail to appreciate its influence : "Towns and private 
societies, grand juries, militia companies, merchant 
organizations and the Cincinnati" held boisterous 
meetings, made out long petitions to Congress and 
sent congratulatory addresses to the President. It 
became dangerous for a Frenchman to appear on 
the streets in the large cities, and any man suspected 
of holding Jacobin opinions was an object of aver 
sion. An address of the young men of Philadelphia, 
with five thousand signatures, was borne to Adams 
at the head of a procession of twelve hundred enthu 
siasts for war ; Hail Columbia was composed at this 
time, and became as popular as "After the Ball in 
our day, which so many of us remember with regret ; 
Boston went beside itself over the song of "Adams 
and Liberty," and the students of Harvard college 
toasted General Suwarrow, as the Russian messen 
ger of freedom ! Jefferson said it was impossible 
for a Republican to appear on the streets of Phila 
delphia without danger of personal insult, and that 
in private social circles leading members of Congress 
were ostracized because they voted "against the gov 
ernment." The "rogue s march" was played under 
the Vice-President s window at night. It is not 
surprising that these influences told on the votes of 
the opposition ; some yielded, others absented them 
selves from the sessions. By the middle of May 
all the main measures of the Administration were 
carried. Macon s speeches against these measures 
were in general defensive; at times he was rather 
personal, though never offensive, even when he was 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 113 

an object of constant attack on the part of the New 
England members ; he was always politic and appa 
rently always cool-headed, while those around him 
were ofttimes beside themselves with anger and 
excitement. 

While the Federalist majority was carrying every 
thing its own way, and holding indignation meet 
ings over their opponents, whom they regarded as 
completely overthrown, some resolutions of another 
nature were presented by Josiah Parker, of Virginia. 
They were from a company of grenadiers of Ports 
mouth. After a preamble, in which the Virginia 
Declaration of Rights and one s duty to posterity 
were "duly touched upon, it said "we view with 
extreme concern the attempts that are evidently mak 
ing by men high in authority to widen the breach 
between the United States and the French Republic, 
by holding up to the good people of these States the 
late unworthy propositions of certain unauthorized 
persons at Paris, as the act of the French Govern 
ment, when in reality the face of the despatches can 
not warrant any such conclusions. 

"That we can not but view the man, or any set of 
men, as inimical to the rights of the people, and the 
sound principle of self-government, who shall 
endeavor, by any false coloring, to give the stamp of 
authenticity to that which in itself is extremely 
doubtful and problematical ; and who shall, by such 
means, strive to involve us all in the calamities of 
war with the most powerful republic on earth." 
Then follow resolutions against an alliance with 
England, which the war would necessarily bring ; 
against lavish expenditure in a free government ; 
in favor of a well-regulated militia "composed 
of the body of the people, which is the proper, natu 
ral and safe defence of a free state" ; another 



114 NATHANIEL MACON. 

endorsing all "wise and patriotic measures of 
defence" passed by the last Congress, and still 
another declaring what would seem strange at any 
other stage in our history, that "in case of actual 
invasion we hold it to be the duty of all good citi 
zens and militiamen to rally round the standard of 
government, and to defend our rights against all 
encroachments whatever." The resolutions close 
with an order that "copy of these proceedings be 
forwarded to our Representative in Congress, with 
positive instructions for it to be laid by him before 
that body as the sense of their meeting." 1 

These resolves embrace the policy of the Southern 
Republicans, and were more than likely inspired 
from Philadelphia. In addition, however, to 
denouncing the party in power and its leaders, 
toward the close, we see the refutation of the 
charges so commonly made on the floor of Congress 
that the Republicans were such good friends of 
France that in case of war they would not defend 
their country. The resolutions declare, in answer 
to these charges, that only in case of actual invasion 
does it become the duty of all good citizens to take 
up arms, which is no other than saying that the sea 
warfare of the Government, or any expedition 
against French possessions on this continent would 
not be supported. The last words of the resolutions 
are characteristic of the fierce Republicanism of that 
day: that "their Representative be ordered to lay 
these proceedings before Congress a theory which 
was so universally accepted in North Carolina in 
1792 and 1795 as to have caused the recall of the 
State s first and ablest Senators Johnston and 
Hawkins chiefly because they ignored the right of 
the people to instruct. 

i Annals of Congress, 6th Cong., ad Sess., 1707-1708. 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 115 

When these Portsmouth resolves were read in the 
House, the Federalists desired to burn them pub 
licly. Sitgreaves, the extreme advocate of war 
like measures, was in favor of rejecting them as a 
libel on the Government ; while Brooks, of New York, 
said "why do they (the Republican supporters of 
such resolutions) not come forward and impeach the 
President. I can scarcely believe that such illiberal 
and scandalous abuse could proceed from any other 
than vicious dispositions." And Dana but expressed 
the views of his party when he declared that to refer 
these libellous statements to a committee and to 
allow them to become the basis of a resolution would 
be charging the President and Senate with almost 
treasonable behavior. The Republicans admitted 
the improper language of the resolutions, but 
insisted on their being received and referred. 
Gallatin made a speech insisting on the reference of 
all petitions without debate, and Macon claimed 
that this was the first instance where even a refer 
ence of petitions was opposed. "In the case of the 
British treaty, addresses had been received on both 
sides of the question, couched in very strong terms 
indeed. It would be imprudent at a time like the 
present when all believe this country is in danger, to 
reject addresses from persons well attached to the 
Government, merely on the ground of etiquette. 
And furthermore, our Constitution guarantees the 
people the right of petition, without defining the 
manner in which they shall do it, and this right we 
can not abridge. Again, the refusal to give fair 
consideration to the Portsmouth petitioners would 
be tantamount to acknowledging that the House 
was afraid of investigation" a rather plain hit at 
its opponents. The resolutions were finally received 
and referred to a committee which consigned them 
to oblivion successfully enough. 



116 NATHANIEL MACON. 

Toward the end of May, as the war spirit con 
tinued to rise, the Federalists became more and more 
aggressive : they were anxious to lay hands on those 
liberal, perhaps extreme, advocates of democratic 
government, who were of foreign descent; and 
they began by directing legislation toward a series 
of naturalization laws, which should require a 
foreigner to live in the country five years before 
he might ask for papers looking toward citizen 
ship, and fourteen years before he should finally 
acquire the rights of a citizen; that all foreigners 
not already citizens are "liable to be arrested as sus 
pected persons." -Gallatin began his customary roll 
of shrewd amendment and obstruction, but he was 
voted down regularly by majorities of one or two 
votes. Macon assisted the Pennsylvanian, and 
offered a plea for the great body of persons who 
live remote from centres of information, and who, 
entirely ignorant of all this excitement against them, 
are innocently pursuing their callings, expecting to 
become citizens at the expiration of the old term of 
five years. The new measure would press hardly 
on such people, and without their having been in 
any way deserving of ill treatment." But no 
speeches could check the onward course of the sup 
porters of the Administration. Gallatin himself 
had been refused his seat in a Federalist Senate; 
why not so construct a bill now as to drive him out 
of the House, which had also fallen into their hands ? 
Harper, of South Carolina, had found the able 
Genevan democrat a most objectionable opponent, 
and in the honesty of his American soul he declared 
"it is high time for us to recover from the mistake 
with which we set out under the Constitution of 
admitting foreigners to citizenship ; for nothing but 
birth should entitle a man to citizenship, and we 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 117 

ought so to declare it." And Otis, a kinsman of the 
greater Otis of 1769, offered a resolution which was 
a source of only partial satisfaction to the South 
Carolinian, requiring that no alien-born should 
hereafter hold office under the United States. The 
zeal of Gallatin s enemies happily was cooled by a 
reminder that the Constitution itself spoke out on the 
subject, and so they had to accustom themselves to 
looking without becoming nauseated upon quiet, 
genteel-looking Mr. Gallatin, occupying his post of 
leadership on the opposite side of the House. 1 

As the bill finally became a law by a vote of 
forty-six to forty-four, on May 23, it gave the Pres 
ident absolute powers over the large class of people 
in the country designated by Congress ( i ) as Alien 
friends, and (2) as Alien enemies. Alien friends he 
could banish without assigning cause, and failing to 
observe the Presidential order to leave the country, 
the Executive could consign them to jail for three 
years, while the right of citizenship was thereby for 
feited forever. And this, the Federalist vengeance 
still insisted, might be followed by forcible deporta 
tion. If a Frenchman or a Dutchman who had 
been ordered away returned without permission, he 
was subject to imprisonment and hard labor for life. 
So much for alien friends. Alien enemies were to 
be apprehended whenever and wherever the Presi 
dent chose, and to be treated as he thought best. 
Let us hope it was not much worse than the treat 
ment accorded to alien friends. Those who gave 
shelter or comfort to alien enemies, according to 
medieval precedent, might likewise be seized and 
imprisoned. Well might Gallatin and his friends 
begin to look to their own cases, lest by associating 
with Doctor Cooper or the eminent French scientist, 

i Annals of Congress, 5th Cong., 2d Sess., 1776 on. 



118 NATHANIEL, MACON. 

Volney, both friends of theirs, they themselves wake 
up some morning in a Philadelphia jail. 

Two days after the alien law was enacted, a new 
bill for the "more effectual protection of commerce 
came up the same that had given occasion to Sew- 
all s threat to secede from the Union at the extra 
session a year before. Macon claimed that these 
"Resolutions for the further Protection of Trade" 
brought in by Sitgreaves were equivalent to a decla 
ration of war against France, and he moved an 
amendment declaring war on all nations whose treat 
ment of our trading vessels was the same as that com 
plained of from France. Provocation sufficient for 
a formal declaration of war had been repeatedly 
given by "more than one nation during the past two 
years. If it must come, let us be just to all alike." 
He added that peace even under the insolent treat 
ment from foreign ships of war was preferable to 
war : "our trade and our revenue are continually 
increasing." Which was true. The American car 
rying trade, thanks to the bold New England ship 
builders and sailors, was then second only to that 
of England. New England towns were becoming 
rich in times of war, like those of Holland in 1580- 
1600, when all the greater states of Europe were at 
war; their traders were to be seen on every shore 
driving hard bargains with the natives. Macon 
insisted on peace for the benefit then of the South, 
which did not desire war, and which found its best 
market for its enormous tobacco crop in France. 
He asked at that stage of affairs a postponement of 
action until a further report from the Paris commis 
sioners could be received. Harper replied by accu 
sing Macon of inconsistency, and others censured 
him severely for desiring so to amend the resolu 
tion of Mr. Sitgreaves as to make them a declaration 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 119 

of war against both France and England Macon 
answered these criticisms when the House took up 
the report of the Committee of the Whole, saying 
that "instead of blaming him, the gentleman ought 
to be obliged to him for giving them opportunity of 
making studied speeches, which they otherwise could 
not have done," a remark, to be sure, too trivial for 
the occasion. To the statement of Harper that 
Macon s amendment gave the lie to his former senti 
ments, he returned a rather sharp but courteous 
rebuke : "It is the gentleman s custom to speak thus." 
The Speaker called him to order for the first time 
since he had been a member of Congress, when he 
went so far as to state that in the Revolutionary war 
no man east of the Delaware had ever been seen 
fighting in the Southern States, and that now the 
South was willing to be left alone. He declared 
that the country was divided in political sentiment 
geographically, and would always remain so; that 
there were sections which always opposed each 
other, but that this, like every State and county in 
the Union, did not signify a lack of patriotism, and 
that statements to that effect made in the House 
were directed only to the galleries. After rehears 
ing the ills suffered under the British policy of 
impressment, he renewed his demand that war 
should be made on all foreign countries alike, if at 
all ; and he knew only too well if there were any 
danger of England s being threatened by the bill as 
amended, it would never pass. Bayard, of New 
Jersey, followed with the final speech on the Macon 
amendment, in which the latter was again the^object 
of considerable animus. Bayard entered into a 
lengthy justification of Great Britain s policy toward 
America since the signing of the treaty of Paris, and 
eulogized the country which, he said, out of pure 



120 NATHANIEL MACON. 

love for us ! convoyed our trading vessels from 
their ports all the way across the Atlantic to keep 
them from falling into the hands of the French. 
Macon s motion was lost, seventy to twenty, the 
twenty supporters being those extreme anti-English 
Republicans like himself and Matthew Locke, of 
North Carolina, old General Sumpter, of South 
Carolina, and the good Dutchman, Van Cortlandt, 
of New York. 1 This resolution of Macon s and its 
rejection show him even at that time one of those 
independents who so often disconcert party plans 
and measures. 

A letter of his, 2 dated May 24, shows his private 
opinion of the bill he had just been opposing: "An 
act passed both Houses of the legislature yesterday, 
which, in my opinion, amounts to a declaration of 
war against the French Republic, and I have no 
doubt but the President will approve it early tomor 
row, so that it will be a law as soon as possible." 
On May 30 he laid before the House a resolution 
for adjournment on June 14 his plan being, of 
course, to escape Federalist legislation and at the 
same time get back to his plantation. In the letter 
above referred to, he said : "You ask when I expect 
to be at home ; it is not possible to form at this day 
any correct opinion as to the time, though I hope to 
be there in all the next month" hopes consistent 
enough with his motion, but not with the wishes of 
the majority of the House. At the time of this 
writing the Direct Taxation plan, often suggested 
before this time by the leaders of the opposition 
themselves, was before the House. Macon neither 
favored nor opposed it in this letter to his friend : 
"No new tax law has yet passed, though the 

1 Annals of Congress, sthCong., 2d Ssss., 1815-1827. 

2 Macon to Roger Bigelow of Warren county, N. C., May 24, 1798, 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 

large appropriations that have been made will ren 
der one necessary, it is expected, and a bill is before 
the House of R. laying a direct tax on land, houses 
and slaves, to be apportioned among the States 
according to the rule prescribed in the Constitution 
of the United States." 

When this bill came up, Macon proposed to change 
it so that all improvements aside from dwelling- 
houses the specific object of taxation after land 
contemplated in the bill should be taxed. This 
change he based on the claims of common justice 
that every species of property should bear its propor 
tion of the burdens of government. Gallatin took 
the same view, and the motion to strike out the 
clause to which Macon objected passed. Instead of 
the adjournment which Macon pressed to a vote and 
lost, thirty-four to thirty-two, Congress remained 
in session through the month of June and far into 
July. On the 5th of July, the Senate bill for the 
Punishment of Crime" was brought in by the Fed 
eralists. It provided that "if any person shall un 
lawfully combine or conspire together with intent to 
oppose any measure of the Government of the United 
States, or to impede the operation of any law, or to 
intimidate or prevent any person holding office 
under the Government from exercising his trust 1 ; 
if any person shall, by writing, printing or speaking, 
threaten such officer, * * * he shall be deemed 
guilty of a high misdemeanor, and punished by a 
fine, on conviction, not exceeding five thousand dol 
lars, and by imprisonment not less than six months 
nor exceeding five years. If any person shall, by 
any libellous or scandalous writing, printing, pub 
lishing or speaking, traduce or defame the legisla- 

i One is reminded here of the experience of the English in the 
attempt to enforce the Stamp Act. 



122 NATHANIIX MACON. 

ture of the United States, * * * with intent to 
create a belief in the citizens thereof that the said 
legislature, in enacting any law, was induced thereto 
by motives hostile to the Constitution or liberties 
and happiness of the people thereof ; or shall in any 
manner aforesaid traduce or defame the President of 
the United States, or any Court, or Judge thereof, 
the person so offending, being convicted, 
shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thou 
sand dollars and by imprisonment not exceeding 
two years." 

The best comment from both points of view on 
the introduction of this bill into the House appears 
in the first motions made: Otis, Federalist, that it 
be read a second time; Harrison, Republican, that 
the amendments to the Constitution be read. When 
a determined opposition was at once manifested, the 
Federalists betrayed a chief cause of this legislation : 
their animosity toward the leading Republican jour 
nals. Allen, of Connecticutt, said : "Let gentlemen 
look at certain papers printed in this city and else 
where, and ask themselves whether an unwarrant 
able and dangerous combination does not exist to 
overturn and ruin the Government by publishing 
the most shameless falsehoods against the repre 
sentatives of the people of all denominations, that 
they are hostile to free government and genuine 
liberty, and of course to the welfare of the country ; 
that they ought, therefore, to be displaced, and that 
the people ought to raise an insurrection against the 
Government." He then read paragraphs from the 
Aurora, organ of the Republicans; charged the 
Republicans in and out of the House with being in 
a conspiracy with Gerry, the supposed Republican 
member of the French commission, their agent in 
Paris, to treat with France in spite of the Govern- 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 123 

ment ; and coming back to the newspapers again, he 
quotes the Aurora as saying: "The period is now at 
hand when it will be a question difficult to deter 
mine whether there is more safety and liberty to 
be enjoyed at Constantinople or Philadelphia." Liv 
ingston was charged with making war on the Gov 
ernment through the same paper, and "this infamous 
printer follows him with the tocsin of insurrection. 
Can gentlemen hear these things and lie quietly on 
their pillows? Are these approaches to revolution 
and Jacobinic domination to be observed with the 
eye of meek submission? No, sir, they are indeed 
terrible; they are calculated to freeze the blood in 
our veins. Such liberty of the press and of opinion 
is calculated to destroy all confidence between man 
and man ; it cuts asunder every ligament that unites 
man to his fellows, man to his neighbor, man to 
society, man to government. God deliver us from 
such liberty I" 1 Harper, in a moderate manner, 
went over the same ground, asserting that libellous 
speeches had been made in the House, and libellous 
letters were being written from it to many parts of 
the country. He favored the measure, and with 
him was the cooler-headed portion of the Federal 
ist party. 

Macon spoke somewhat at length in opposition to 
the Senate s Sedition bill: It was in direct oppo 
sition to the Constitution and if Congress could 
pass a law to abridge the liberty of the press, it 
could pass a law establishing a state religion ; if the 
Constitution be violated in one respect, it may as 
well be violated in others. "Laws of restraint, like 
this, always operate in a contrary direction from 
that which they are intended to take. The people 
suspect something is not right when free discus- 

i Annals of Congress, sth Cong., 2d Sess., 2092-2101. 



124: NATHANIEL MACON. 

sion is feared by government, They know that 
truth is. not afraid of investigation." Calling to 
mind the methods of 1776 he said, "if people are so 
dissatisfied as men claim, this law will force them 
to combine; they will establish corresponding socie 
ties throughout the Union, and communications will 
be made in secret instead of publicly. I believe 
the people may be as safely trusted with free dis 
cussion as they whom they have chosen to do their 
business." In reply to Otis s statement that the pro 
posed bill was not different from the common law of 
the land, he went to the heart of the thing, for Otis 
had said the States had prosecuted the people for 
libel in just such cases: "let the States continue to 
punish, when necessary, licentiousness of the press." 
But that was a power which the National Govern 
ment desired to usurp in order to punish those whom 
the States ignored and in many cases encouraged. 
Allen of New York had said that Republican papers 
claimed the Federalists were seeking to destroy the 
liberty of the press. "The passage of this bill," 
said Macon, "will cause a hundred such charges to 
be made where there is now one." As to Bache s 
paper, the Aurora, he asserted, and rightly, that 
Cobbotfs, the Federalist organ, was equally licen 
tious, and that he, Macon, depended on the "lies in 
the one paper to be counteracted by the lies in another 
of the opposing party." This very practical speech 
was concluded by a warning to his opponents not to 
seek their precedents beyond the water, referring, 
of course, to Pitt s recent measures against the Lib- 
eralist press in England; that "conditions in Amer 
ica are so different as to make all imitations fail 
ures ; the people in our country understand their 
State and Federal governments, are jealous of any 
encroachments of the one upon the other; they are 



MACON AfW) FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 125 

extremely jealous of their liberty as freemen ought 
to be." 1 

After the original bill had been modified by allow 
ing the truth as evidence in the courts in favor of the 
defendant, and the operation of the proposed meas 
ure limited to two years, which improvements passed 
in the one instance by the vote of the Speaker and 
in the other by a very small majority, the report of 
the Committee of the Whole came before the House 
for a final decision and Macon again spoke against it : 
(i) by citing the first amendment to the Constitu 
tion, and asking, "How can so plain language be 
misunderstood or interpreted into consistency with 
the bill before us; (2) this very subject had come 
up in the conventions which adopted the Constitu 
tion and every advocate of the General Government 
had denied that, even without the amendments, pros 
ecutions for libel could be made under its authority, 
or that the full and complete freedom of the press 
could be abridged, except through State interfer 
ence." Quoting from the debates in the North Car 
olina Convention, and from Judge Iredell s argu 
ment, he made a strong point against his oppo 
nents. Iredell was then a violent Federalist and a 
Judge of the Supreme Court ; he had said at Hills- 
boro, in the North Carolina Convention: "Where 
is the power given them to do this? They (Con 
gress) have power to define and punish piracies and 
felonies committed on the high seas and offences 
against the law of nations ; but they have no power 
to define any other crime whatever * * *. They 
can claim no other but such as are so enumerated." 
(3) Then he cited the opinions of members of Con 
gress when the amendments were passed and they 
were unanimously against any such measures as 

i Annals of Congress, sth Cong., ad Sess., 2105-2106. 



126 NATHANIEL MACON. 

were then before the House ; and, "how is it come 
to pass, notwithstanding all the positive opinions 
which I have quoted to the contrary, that Congress 
should now conceive that they have power to pass 
laws on this subject?" (4) As to the policy of such 
action, he believed it bad, that the States had here 
tofore exercised jurisdiction in this matter and that 
any lack of confidence expressed in the State gov 
ernments was dangerous. "This Government de 
pends upon the State Legislatures for existence. 
They have only to refuse to elect Senators to Con- 
gress and all is gone." It was a vain hope he ex 
pressed as he took his seat: "but if there be a 
majority determined to pass it, I can only hope that 
the judges (the Supreme Court) will exercise 
the power placed in them of determining the law 
an unconstitutional law, if, upon scrutiny, they 
find it to be so. 1 

This speech of Macon s contains his political 
creed, so far as the relation of the States to the 
National Constitution and vice versa is concerned. 
It is all a very simple matter ; the nation is an ema 
nation ,of the State governments and entirely de 
pendent on them. His opinion, both as to the con 
stitutionality and the expediency of the Sedition 
laws as expressed above, have been shown to be 
entirely correct; within four years but few of the 
Federalists would have disputed this with him. 

It is not necessary here to discuss a policy which 
has been admitted by all students of our history to 
have been an egregious blunder on the part of the 
party which took it up. The object of the Federal 
ists was to muzzle public opinion, and since the State 
governments were not to be counted on to cooperate, 
they usurped powers which had not been granted. 

i Annals of Congress, sth Cong., zd Sess., 2151-2152. 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 127 

When Macon suggested that the States alone 
had the punishment of libel and of the so-called 
sedition in their control, he touched upon the "heart 
of the matter" ; the persons aimed at in the law lived 
in States which were not likely to interfere with an 
occasional or even daily castigation of the Feder 
alists in the public prints. From Pennsylvania 
south, including South Carolina even, there was 
neither a court nor a grand jury which could be 
depended on to punish these offenders against East 
ern ideas of political propriety. The National Gov 
ernment, on the contrary, was then in the hands 
of the party which had erected it, and this party 
was looking for an opportunity to teach the people 
the wholesome lesson of respectful authority and 
dutiful silence in matters which little concerned 
them: the management of a nation, its finance, its 
laws, its wars. "The people," to the leading Fed 
eralists, were "a great beast," whose business it was 
to pay taxes, fight in the wars, be obedient to the 
laws and forever hold their peace; they existed for 
the benefit of "friends of government," for the 
"intelligent and educated classes." And as to the 
bounds set by the Constitution, especially those 
obnoxious amendments, which were the product of 
those very "people" who now disputed with the 
Federalists the path to national glory, they were 
not overscrupulous. All that Macon said was to 
them but an echo of that violent opposition which 
burst forth in 1788 in the Southern States against 
the Constitution in its original form ; his arguments 
convinced some perhaps of the unconstitutionality 
of their bill, judged by the amendments; but the 
amendments themselves were unconstitutional. 1 
What gave the dominant party the assurance to 

* Compare Schouler, I., 409-410. 



128 NATHANIEL MACON. 

go to such extremes as the acts of this session of 
Congress committed them was the constantly rising 
of the tide of excitement against France, rather 
in favor of a Jingoistic nationalism, with commer 
cialism in the saddle. Adams could not under 
stand popular sentiment, nor keep his head in the 
midst of popular applause. One single remon 
strance against the administration came from the 
people during that long session, while thousands of 
addresses poured into the President s office endors 
ing his spirited action. This excitement increased 
as the summer of 1798 came on: May 8th was ap 
pointed by the President as day of National fasting 
and prayer, though he himself did not believe partic 
ularly in prayer, and the people gathered in the 
churches, as they had done in 1776, to listen to politi 
cal harangues from the pulpit. On July 4th the 
American spirit reached its climax, "the revolu 
tionary watch-fires were kindled at the old altar; 
the native-born of the North sported the black cock 
ade, and Tallyrand, the apostate Bishop of Autun, 
was burned in effigy." 1 And all this came just at 
the time when then Naturalization, the Alien and 
Sedition laws were passing. How could it be other 
than overwhelming public approval? It w r as on 
the 5th of July that Allen made his long speech of 
indictment against the public press, that Harper 
demanded the passage of the last great Federalist 
measure of repression and Otis grew hot with anger 
as he contemplated the villainy of these "Jacobin 
leaders" in the House of Representatives itself. 
What availed the speeches and protests of Living 
ston, notwithstanding "his respectable connections," 
of Gallatin and Macon ! The bill passed on July 
loth and the majority adjourned in songs of jubilee, 

i Schou .er, I., 400. 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 129 

anticipating sweeping elections in their favor ; while 
the Republicans resting on their oars, "repaired to 
their respective Legislatures," as Jefferson said, 
leaving a few of the faithful on the watch in Phila 
delphia, while they, the retiring members, were to 
bring up the sober opinions of the people when they 
came again to Congress. 

Macon had enough to contemplate as he returned 
on horseback to his plantation on the Roanoke about 
the middle of July. While war was imminent, and 
the President, in obedience J:o the acts of Congress, 
was organizing a large army with Washington as 
Commander-in-Chief, North Carolina supported 
vigorously the measures of the administration. 
Davie, a leading Federalist, of Halifax, was ap 
pointed a Brigadier General and was given the 
power to name all the new army officers from his 
State, provided he selected "only good Federalists," 
as Washington instructed him. 1 The elections came 
on soon after the adjournment of Congress and the 
Federalists gained control of the Legislature by a 
small majority. Davie was sent to the House again 
after years of absence, and Samuel Johnston to the 
Senate. John Macon was defeated in Warren for 
the first time in his life and Willie Jones, too, had 
failed to represent and satisfy public opinion in Hali 
fax; Timothy Bloodworth, the wizzard of Wil 
mington politics, was scarce heard of, so completely 
had the storm of enthusiasm turned in favor of his 
opponents. The defeat of the Republicans was 
general, but the dissatisfaction with their actions 
was not great enough, however, to return to the 
United States Senate Alexander Martin, because of 
having voted in favor of the Alien and Sedition 
laws. Martin had been elected to the Senate as a 

i Washington to Davie, Washington s Works, ( Sparks ), XI., 336. 

9 



130 NATHANIEL MACON. 

successor to Samuel Johnston in 1792 because of 
his Republican principles. When everything seemed 
to be going to suit the wishes of the Federalists he 
had changed his policy and had voted for the Alien 
and Sedition laws. Martin was defeated in 1798 in 
the Legislature by Jesse Franklin, a second Macon in 
politics. Bloodworth, his colleague in the Senate, 
remained firm in his Republican policy and received 
the endorsement of the Legislature. Notwithstand 
ing the decidedly anti-Republican turn of the North 
Carolina elections, its delegation in Congress was 
expressly instructed by the Legislature to labor 
for the repeal of the principal Federalist measures 
of the past session the Alien and Sedition laws. 
The North Carolina Federalists drew a distinction 
between Adams foreign and domestic policies ; the 
former they heartily approved, while the latter was 
as heartily opposed. 1 These actions show the mild 
character of the policy of the conservatives and the 
ultra-conservatives in North Carolina. To reward 
the Federalists, Adams nominated Governor Davie 
as envoy to France in September, 1799, and .Benja 
min Smith, a Federalist and the Speaker of the Sen 
ate, succeeded him. But Smith was soon followed in 
office by Benjamin Williams, of Moore, an unassum 
ing Democrat, and from this time the Senate steadily 
turned again to a hearty support of the Jeffersonian 
leaders. Nothing did more to weaken the party in 
that State than the appointment of Davie. 

While the elections all over the country were 
going against the Republicans and the rank and 
file of the Federalists were still jubilant over their 
victory, the two leaders of these opposing parties 
in the nation were laying significant plans for the 
future : 

i House Journals N. C. Assembly, 1798, 76-77. 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 131 

1 I ) Jefferson gave letters of introduction to good 
Doctor Logan, who was going abroad on a personal 
mission, for the reestablishment of friendly relations 
between France and the United States. These let 
ters gave Logan a semi-official character in Paris, 
and most of the influential leaders there regarded 
him as a representative of the Republican influence 
in Philadelphia. Gerry s departure from Paris a 
few days before Logan s arrival was such as to 
leave the way well paved for the beginning of better 
diplomatic relations. Merlin and Talleyrand re 
ceived the benevolent Philadelphia Quaker with 
abundant affection; he was feted as an envoy from 
the "States favorable to the French interests," i. e. } 
from the South. In a short time he returned to 
America with assurances of peace and knocked at 
the door of the Department of State, naively thinking 
his message would be joyfully received; but stern 
Mr. Pickering kept it barred against him. Logan 
then payed a visit to Washington, who was then 
in the city on a mission of war, only to meet a more 
"icy reception." On the President his story made 
a more favorable impression. Adams had been 
spending the summer at Quincy and his old friend 
Gerry had been talking to him about French affairs, 
and with the result that the President had returned 
to Philadelphia just before the meeting of Con 
gress firmly resolved to send another envoy to 
France. This olive branch the Quaker had brought 
came to him in good time ; it was the result of Jef 
ferson s influence brought to bear in a most extra 
ordinary way, viewed in the light of present diplo 
matic practice. 1 

(2) Hamilton s plan was of a different nature: 
the South American colonies of Spain were in a 

i Washington s Works, XI., 384-385; Schouler, I., 426-429. 



132 NATHANIEL, MACON. 

mood for revolt, which has been a constant quantity 
with them ever since; France and Spain had mutu 
ally guaranteed each other s possessions in that 
quarter of the globe, and the two powers were, 
moreover, otherwise too amicable to please the Eng 
lish cabinet. What better stroke could be made 
than to strike Spain at her most vulnerable point. 
Hence when John Miranda, an able South Ameri 
can Revolutionist, asked assistance about this time 
in London, a grand scheme of conquest began to 
take shape. Rufus King, the American ambassa 
dor at the Court of St. James, was at once ap 
proached, and he in turn approached Hamilton. 
Hamilton, Pickering s political mentor, opened 
secret correspondence with the Department of State 
in Philadelphia. Adams was not to know anything 
of the plan, which was to lend assistance to Miranda, 
until it was fully developed and prevented in such a 
way that he could be coerced into compliance. This 
was all begun at the same time the warlike meas 
ures toward France were first being pressed in Con 
gress. The plan was this : war was to be declared 
against France, Pickering was to pick a quarrel 
with Spain, AVashington was to be given nominal 
command of our army while Hamilton was to be 
its actual head. Our navy, which was having such 
a struggle to get itself born into the world, should 
guard our coasts, while England, coming to the 
assistance of America, was to send a great fleet 
against South America with which our army should 
cooperate. In case the expedition prove successful 
the United States were to receive the Floridas and 
all of Spanish Louisiana east of the Mississippi; 
England was to have undisputed possession of the 
West Indies and exclusive rights across the isth 
mus of Panama and both Anglo-Saxon nations 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 133 

were to be perpetual allies. Pitt, King, Hamilton, 
Pickering and perhaps Harper of South Carolina 
were the promoters of the plan, and all the leading 
Federalists were cooperating with Hamilton with 
out knowing just what was to be undertaken. The 
organization of the army during the summer, and 
the inflamable disposition of France gave promise 
that the opportunity for active operations would soon 
come. Miranda wrote Hamilton late in October : 
"All is ready for your President to give the word." 1 

When Congress assembled in December, and 
when it was ready to hear the President s address, 
Washington, Hamilton and Pinckney, the ranking 
generals in the new army, appeared and took their 
seats on the right of the Speaker s chair; to the 
left sat the British and Portuguese ministers with 
their secretaries an array of dignity and authority 
imposing enough to make obstinate Republicans 
think more than once before opposing the measures 
of administration. 2 The schemes of the two astute 
political leaders above described were bearing heav 
ily from both directions on the President, but as 
yet he had yielded to neither and in his message he 
was still bellicose, though decidedly in favor of the 
navy as opposed to the army, which was not only 
natural but which showed that some inkling of the 
schemes of his faithless Cabinet and political rival 
in the army had come to his knowledge. Prepara 
tions for war went on and the intrigues of the 
Federalist leaders continued to complicate our for 
eign relations; yet none but the initiated suspected 
what an explosion was to come in Congress on Feb 
ruary 1 8th following. 

If Macon experienced any joy in seeing his op- 

1 See Rufus King s Correspondence, 1797-1798 ; Schouler, I., 422-424. 

2 Annals of Congress, sth Cong., sd Sess., 2420. 



134 NATHANIEL MACON. 

ponents in straights he had ample opportunity from 
the very beginning of that short session to indulge 
himeslf. Harper s first move in the House was for 
getting twenty thousand copies of the Alien and 
Sedition laws printed for distribution among the 
people, who he declared were being worked upon 
and wofully deceived by designing people inter 
ested in the humiliation of the Government. He 
had heard some of the complaints which were begin 
ning to come in from all parts of the country and he 
was very desirous of giving the people opportunity 
for a "correct understanding of the laws" to which 
objection was being made. Macon s friend, Clai- 
borne of Tennessee, replied by moving a resolution 
for publishing forty thousand copies of the Con 
stitution to be sent out at the same time as the 
copies of the Alien laws. Macon spoke favorably 
to Claiborne s motion, referring in a tantalizing way 
to the prevailing ignorance concerning the Consti 
tution in the most populous sections of the country. 
Claiborne s resolution blocked the way to Harper s 
so completely that neither passed. 

Doctor Logan was to escape but narrowly a 
much more serious result of his activity in Paris 
than the coldness of Washington and the closed 
doors of the State Department. A resolution was 
brought into Congress, which would have had him 
hanged as a traitor for going to Paris and bringing 
back a peace message, and would have brought 
Jefferson, the Vice- President, before the bar of the 
Senate on the charge of conspiring with traitors. 
Griswold, having seen what a successful case his 
friend Sitgreaves had made out against Blount in 
getting him expelled from the Senate, which to be 
sure was richly deserved, was ready to try what 
could be done with the arch-enemy of Federalism 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 135 

for having given countenance to and been in corre 
spondence with Logan. 1 Macon made his first 
speech in favor of Jefferson during the angry debate 
on this resolution. He said in part : "I have heard 
a great hue and cry against a French party in this 
country. If such a party exists, why can they not 
be pointed out ? It might as well be said that there 
is a British party in this country. I believe there 
exists full as much reason for saying the one as the 
other * * *. British subjects and British capi 
tal are seen from one end of the continent to the 
other. And will not this capital and these persons 
produce a British interest? The diplomatic skill of 
France is continually preached up. It has been 
clearly shown that they have never discovered any 
of this skill in sending ministers here. But to speak 
out my opinion I believe the British have discov 
ered more diplomatic skill in this country than any 
other nation, and that the present British minister 
has shown more of it than any other. * * * 

"It has been said that certain gentlemen high in 
authority in this country are privy to the departure 
of the gentleman who was lately in France. For 
aught I know, these gentlemen may have named 
him. But it is a little extraordinary that in our 
discussion on this floor, we should be talking of an 
officer in our government (Jefferson) being a 
traitor. Such kind of language can have no other 
effect but to create suspicions in the minds of peo 
ple that that man is an enemy to this country. This 
does not look much like a wish to conciliate differ 
ences of opinion, but the contrary. If gentlemen 
possess proof of any malconduct in the person par 
ticularly alluded to, it is their duty to bring it for 
ward and put him from the situation in which he 

i Annals of Congress, 5th Cong., 3d Sess., 2493 on. 



136 NATHANIEL MACON. 

was placed ; and if any such should be brought, no 
man would be more desirous of seeing him displaced 
than I should. But if no such proof exists, it is a 
strange way of supporting the constituted authori 
ties thus to caluminate a man whom the people have 
thought proper to place in so high a position. 

* * I see no good to be answered by this 
law ; I can not see how an individual can usurp the 
authority of the Executive (which was the charge 
against Logan) * * *. If we were even in a 
state of war, and an individual could prevail upon 
our enemy to offer such terms of peace as our Gov 
ernment would be willing to accept, it would be a 
good thing. I can not conceive of a situation in 
which such a law as is proposed can operate; and 
I believe our Government is as firmly fixed as the 
land we live on." 

The resolution against which Macon was con 
tending passed and Griswold was named chairman 
of a special committee to bring in a suitable bill, 
which was reported in the Committee of the Whole 
a few days later. The proposed law was aimed 
directly to fit the case of Logan and Jefferson and 
to go into effect immediately. The penalty was to 
be a heavy fine and imprisonment. Gallatin and 
Macon attempted so to amend the bill that Logan 
might escape but to no effect. 1 Logan became the 
object of most virulent abuse in the papers and of 
weeks of debate in Congress. January I4th it was 
so threatening that he published a letter in the 
papers explaining his situation in Paris and declar 
ing that he never usurped or supported any official 
character while in the French capital. So far as 
his motives were concerned no one had reason to 
complain. He had undertaken an independent mis- 

* Annals of Congress, 5th Cong., 3d Ses=., 2725^ 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 137 

sion to Paris with the aim of bringing about peace 
between the two countries, hardly suspecting that it 
would be other than welcome news he should bring 
back, if his enterprise should prove successful. 
Jefferson s motives were equally honorable, though 
his countenancing such a scheme as Logan s can 
not be understood other than as an attempt to frus 
trate what he regarded as a positive policy of the 
administration. Macon saw nothing wrong in any 
one s going abroad on a mission of peace and did 
not deny that the leaders of his party had counte 
nanced Logan. Had Logan been sent as an avowed 
representative of leading Republicans, so long as 
the aim was honorable and clearly for the benefit of 
the people, Macon could not see in it anything repre 
hensible. The measure became a law 1 , but no 
prosecution was undertaken because the Federalists 
soon had so much trouble in their own camp that 
there was little time left for the punishment of such 
a powerful opponent as the Vice-President. 

From the beginning of this session of Congress 
petitions against the Alien and Sedition laws were 
pouring in. On January 3ist petitions from New 
York and Pennsylvania, signed by more than four 
thousand persons, were presented. This continued 
through the month of February, but with the result 
of making the Federalists only the more dogged in 
their support of the questionable legislation. Such 
petitions were to them proofs of the perverseness of! 
the people. Debate after debate followed as these 
expressions of universal dissatisfaction piled up on 
the table of the House. It will be remembered 
that the North Carolina delegation was expressly 
instructed to work for the repeal of the unpopular 
laws. Macon spoke often, and sometimes with 

i Annals of Congress, sth Cong., sd Sess., 2721, also 3795. 



138 NATHANIEL, MACON. 

intense partisan spirit, for the referring of the peti 
tions and for a repeal of the laws. 

Jefferson had proposed a still more effective way 
of bringing outside influence to bear. The legisla 
tures of the States were to pass formal resolutions 
against the Alien and Sedition acts. He wrote a 
series of reserves which were sent to Kentucky 
in November and which were soon carried through 
the Assembly of that State and sent to the other 
vStates for endorsement. These resolutions contained 
the gist of the Republican platform of that time 
and they became a sort of final word in the argu 
ments of States Rights men from that time until 
1860. They simply declared the Constitution to 
be a compact beween sovereign States which are 
individually the judges of the infraction of the 
same, that a State may legally withdraw from the 
Union or refuse to observe a law of Congress which 
it believes unconstitutional. These resolutions were 
presented to the North Carolina Assembly during 
the next year and "voted under the table," as Madi 
son said. 1 They were during the present session 
of Congress giving the New England legislatures 
opportunity for endless abuse of the men who 
favored them. They influenced Hamilton, too, to 
make his extraordinary proposition for dividing 
the States. Hamilton s ideas were promptly brought 
to bear on Congress by his friends in the debates of 
this session. 

On the subject of the French relations progress 
was singularly slow. The Republicans had been 
calling for the reports of our envoys since the open 
ing of the session, and especially for the later 
despatches of Gerry, which were known to be of a 
more friendly nature than the preceding ones. 

i Madison s Works, II., 152. 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 139 

These documents had been in Pickering s^ hands 
since October, but since they were not likely to fan 
the embers of war into flames, the Secretary of State 
was preparing a report on them to suit his and, 
Hamilton s ends. Hamilton had made known his 
plans to Dayton, Speaker of the House, to Gunn 
and Otis: (i) that war with France was to be 
brought on as soon as possible, to which end Con 
gress was to go on increasing the army and navy ; 
(2) that a division of the great States in such a 
way as to weaken the force of their opposition was 
necessary; (3) that the Alien laws should be more 
strictly enforced. "Why," he asked, "are not these 
renegade Aliens connected with some of these (Re 
publican) presses sent away? These laws should 
not be a dead letter." 1 Hamilton was becoming 
impatient with the delay of the war and was help 
ing Pickering "touch up" his message on the French 
question so that Congress and the country would be 
excited into an immediate declaration of hostili 
ties. A despatch which came from France about 
the beginning of the session informing the State 
Department that the most obnoxious of their laws 
concerning us had been repealed was not suffered to 
be made public. This dispatch announced that the 
French Government had repealed its law authorizing 
the seizure as pirates of all Americans who were 
found on the enemy s ships. 2 Pickering did all he 
could to get Hamilton s ideas expressed officially 
to the House, but Adams had grown unmanage 
able, and he gave the Secretary s message, a chaste 
pruning down, remarking at the time, "I am not 
going to send to Congress a phillipic against Mr. 

1 Schouler, I., 438-439. 

2 This and other practices of both France and England of that day 
show only too clearly that American Independence was not acknowl 
edged by the European powers. 



140 NATHANIEL MACON. 

Gerry/ 1 Still the administration kept up a show 
of war, and apparently endorsed Otis resolution of 
January i8th, which demanded a suspension of 
all diplomatic relations with France. While Otis 
was speaking the long looked-for documents were 
brought into the House, and after three hours of 
reading, a motion was made for publishing them 
and especially Pickering s opinions. This paper of 
Pickering s was meant chiefly as a campaign docu 
ment. Macon staunchly opposed the suspension of 
formal relations with France because the outlook 
for peace was more promising than ever before; 
and the resolution ordering all the State Depart 
ment documents, with Pickering s commentary, 
printed, he opposed in his characteristic way: "I 
object because it is not founded in custom; let the 
official papers in this instance as formerly go out to 
the people as heretofore. They went without com 
ment and so should these. I do not think there is 
any occasion to direct the people how to think. / be 
lieve the great body of them -will always think right if 
left to themselves. Was it because former commu 
nications (on this subject) looked more like war 
than these, that they were given to the people with 
out commentary; and, that because these have the 
appearance of peace, it is necessary to twist them to 
look a contrary way?" 1 

The wrangling in the House and the intriguing 
in the Cabinet were still going on when Adams, 
casting all but the real interest of the country to the 
winds, threw a bomb into the Senate by nominat 
ing, on February i8th, William Vans Murray, then 
Minister in Holland, Minister Plenipotentiary to 
the French republic. On the same day Sedgwick, 
then a member of the Senate, having some fears, 

i Annals of Congress, sth Cong., sd Sess., 2736. 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPRF.MACY. 141 

it seems, that Adams was about to break bounds, 
had gone to the President asking his opinion of 
Hamilton s army measures. The President said : 
"If you must have an army, I will give it to you; 
but remember it will make the government more 
unpopular than all their other acts. The people 
have submitted with more patience than any people 
ever did, to the burden of taxes, which have been 
liberally laid on, but their patience will not last 
always." And a moment later Adams asked what 
additional authority the Senate meant to give Wash 
ington. Sedgwick somewhat demurely replied: 
"None, all that has been proposed is to give him a 
new title that of General" (Hamilton desired to 
be Lieutenant-General). Adams: "What! Are 
you going to appoint him general over the Presi 
dent? I have not been so blind but I have seen a 
combined effort among those who call themselves 
friends of government, to annihilate the essential 
powers given to the President." Hamilton was 
in Philadelphia at the time and Sedgwick went at 
once to report to him Adams ill humor. The Fed 
eralists were expecting some difficulty with their 
President, but that he would destroy at one blow 
all their schemes by sending another representative 
to Paris was a bolder step than they thought his 
love of office would allow him to take. In order to 
conciliate the Senate Adams finally added Patrick 
Henry and Chief Justice Ellsworth to the nomina 
tion. Henry declined to serve and Governor Davie 
of North Carolina, as has been noted, was sent in 
his stead. 

This independent move of Adams deserved for 
him a better reward than he ever received. It kept 
the nation from entering into an alliance with Eng 
land against Revolutionary France, from entering 



142 NATHANIEL, MACON. 

into those very entangling alliances against which 
Washington had so earnestly warned Congress two 
years before. It dismayed and disconcerted the 
Federalists for a while; still the President did not 
allow preparations for war to relax and so the large 
appropriations were all voted. And in defiance of 
public opinion the salaries of public officials were 
liberally increased. Adams hastened away to 
Quincy at the close of Congress, leaving his dis 
gruntled Cabinet at Hamilton s beck and call. An 
army of officers without companies and ensigns of 
a navy on paper drew their salaries regularly and 
having nothing to do they were very much in evi 
dence about Philadelphia. Hamilton and King 
still urged the President to allow the Miranda expe 
dition to be entered upon, and the sharp encounter 
between the French and the American naval vessels, 
L/Insurgente and Constellation, gave ample oppor 
tunity for beginning war in earnest. 

On the dissolution of the Merlin Directory Pick 
ering and Hamilton made a last attempt to undo 
what the President had done toward bringing about 
more peaceable relations, by delaying the departure 
of our Commissioners. Message after message 
was hastened off to Quincy to get the order for a 
suspension ; Cabot, Senator from Massachusetts, 
was sent to see Adams in person. Pickering, Wol- 
cott and McHenry, of the Cabinet, threatened to 
take matters into their own hands. Stoddard, true 
to Adams as he was, suggested to him a speedy 
return to Philadelphia. The President came at 
once and met the Cabinet in Trenton, its temporary 
headquarters. Hamilton and Ellsworth were there, 
which still further excited the jealousy of Adams 
and determined him on sending off the Commis 
sioners at once. Next morning at daybreak, i. e., 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 143 

October 15, 1799, he sent Pickering peremptory 
orders for the Commissioners to depart for France. 
Hamilton hastened to see the President in order to 
dissuade him from this final step, but to no avail. 

During this summer and autumn the State elec 
tions in Pennsylvania, the Fries riots in the same 
State, and the tumult of the Sedition lawsuits, all 
tended to discourage the dominant party. Adams 
alone had reason for satisfaction in the staunch per 
sonal support of New England in the autumn elec 
tions. Lyon was prosecuted for sedition and cast 
into prison ; the editor of a Republican paper, the 
New London Bee, in Connecticut, was also impris 
oned; Duane, of the Aurora, was arrested on a 
warrant issued for him before the Sedition act 
became law, so anxious were the Federalists to pun 
ish him. Judge Chase rode the southern circuit 
and sought out the enemies of his party to admin 
ister them a wholesome chastisement so that Vir 
ginia and North Carolina were beginning to tire 
of the men they had so enthusiastically endorsed a 
year before. 

It was not then a discouraging outlook for the 
Republicans when they met in Congress December 
2, 1799. Their opponents were divided into East 
ern and Southern wings. John Marshall of Vir 
ginia was dubious of the constitutionality of the 
Alien and Sedition laws, as were Ames and Sedg- 
wick of the true Federalism of any man who 
opposed them. The majority of the party in power 
was overwhelming nominally, but when test votes 
were taken in matters that affected seriously 
the interest of the South the Federalists found it a 
greater difficulty than ever to keep their new mem 
bers in line. 

In the organization of the Sixth Congress, Macon 




OF THE 

UNIVERSIT 



NATHANIEL MACON. 

developed nnexpected strength for the Speakership ; 
it was only by a majority of six that his old competi 
tor, Sedgwick, now returned to the House, was 
chosen over him. 1 Since he became the leader of 
the North Carolina delegation in 1795, Macon had 
been steadily gaining in popularity; during the 
extra session of 1797 he was constantly referred to 
on matters of unfinished business of the previous 
session. The previous practice of the House in 
almost all important cases he remembered and stated 
on occasion ; for the saving of time and the expedi 
tion of measures his suggestions had become more 
and more apt. 2 He had developed, too, as keen a 
sense of precedent as if he had been an English par 
liamentarian. Speakers were chosen then for their 
ability as moderators, for their judicious trend of 
mind and their knowledge of parliamentary prac 
tice, all of which Macon possessed in so eminent a 
degree as to be the undisputed choice of his party. 
This session was important in Macon s career 
because he then for the first time met that extraor 
dinary young man from "up the Roanoke," who 
was to exert more influence over Macon s future 
life than any other person ever did, and who was in 
turn to be more influenced by him than by any other. 
This was John Randolph, not yet "of Roanoke." 
Macon had made a short speech against a proposed 
change in the census law and soon afterward that 
youthful figure arose and in a strangely fascinating 
voice addressed some remarks to the House in 
agreement with what Macon had said. Randolph 
was only twenty-six years old and looked still 
younger; he had attained notoriety a year before 
this time by making a three hours harangue at 

1 Annals of Congress, 6th Cong., istSess., 186. 

2 Annals of Congress, sth Cong , i?t Sess., 238 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 145 

Charlotte Court House in Virginia against the 
aged Henry; he had been defeated for the Assem 
bly by his distinguished opponent, but had won 
such distinction in the campaign of 1798 that he 
was sent the next year to Congress. John Ran 
dolph was a man who could not pass through a 
street without attracting all eyes to himself. One 
who knew him has left us the following descrip 
tion : "His long thin legs, about as thick as a stout 
walking cane, and of much the same shape, were 
encased in a pair of tight, small clothes, so tight 
that they seemed part and parcel of the limbs of 
the wearer. Handsome white stockings were fas 
tened with great tidiness at the knees by a small 
gold buckle, and over them, coming about half way 
up the calf, were a pair of what I believe are called 
hose, coarse and country-knit * * *. He trod 
like an Indian, without turning his toes out, but 
planking them down straight ahead. It was the 
fashion of those days to wear a fan-tailed coat with 
a small collar ,and buttons far apart behind, and 
few on the breast. Mr. Randolph s were the 
reverse of all this, and instead of his coat being fan- 
tailed, it was what Knights of the Needle call swal 
low-tailed * * *. His waist was remarkably 
slender, so slender that, as he stood with his arms 
akimbo, he could easily, as I thought, with his long 
bony fingers have spanned it * * *. About his 
neck he wore a large white cravat, in which his 
chin was occasionally buried as he moved his head 
in conversation ; no shirt collar was perceptible ; 
every other person seemed to pride himself on the 
size of his, as they wore them large. Mr. Ran 
dolph s complexion was precisely that of a mummy ; 
withered, saffron, dry, and bloodless; you could 
not have placed a pin s point on his face where you 
10 



146 NATHANIEL MACON. 

would not have touched a wrinkle. His lips were 
thin and compressed and colorless ; the chin, beard 
less as a boy s, was broad for the size of his face, 
which was small ; his nose was straight, with noth 
ing remarkable in it, except, perhaps, it was too 
short. He wore a fur cap, which he took off, 
standing a few moments uncovered. I observed 
that his head was quite small, a characteristic which 
is said to have marked many men of talent * * *. 
Mr. Randolph s hair was remarkably fine fine as 
an infant s and thin; it was very long, and was 
parted with great care on the top of the head, and 
was tied behind with a bit of black ribbon, about 
three inches from his neck; the whole of it formed 
a queue no thicker than the little finger of a deli 
cate girl. His forehead was low with no bumpology 
about it; but his eye, though sunken, was startling 
in its glance. It was not an eye of profound, but 
of impulsive and passionate thought, with an expres 
sion at times such as physicians describe to be that 
of insanity; but an insanity which seemed to 
quicken, not to destroy intellectual acuteness. I 
never beheld an eye that struck me more. He lifted 
his long, bony finger impressively as he conversed, 
and jesticulated with it in a peculiar manner." 1 

Whether Macon had ever met Randolph before 
the opening of Congress, there is no means of -tell 
ing. It is not improbable, however, that he had 
heard of the impertinent youth and kinsman of Jef 
ferson, who had met Patrick Henry in debate and 
had not come off worsted, for all these remarkable 
men lived in adjoining districts and were almost 
neighbors in that day of hard riding. But if 
Macon had never heard of the man, the second 
speech he made, of only one short paragraph, was 

i F. W. Thomas : Character Sketches : Randolph, 14-16. 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 147 

sufficient to invite his friendship. A petition of 
"free blacks" the very words were objectionable 
to Macon had been presented to the House by Mr. 
Wain of Pennsylvania. After some debate, the 
new member from Virginia began to rise from his 
seat, gradually unfolding his long-jointed limbs 
until it appeared there was no end to his length. 
When he was fully erect he declared that no encour 
agement whatever should be given to such petitions, 
and he hoped that this would be "the last time the 
business of the House would be entered upon, and 
the interests and feelings of the Southern States be 
put in jeopardy, by similar applications." It was 
beyond the power of the House and he thought it 
might be so declared once for all. Such a speech 
as this went straight to Macon s heart. This was 
surely no compromising Virginia Federalist who 
had come into Congress by the political eruptions 
of the past year. The yeas and nays on this 
"embarrassing question" were taken once and then 
only on the part of the petition calling for legisla 
tive relief from Congress. It was decided by a 
vote of eighty-five to one that Congress had no 
constitutional powers whatever to deal with the 
subject. The one dissenter was George Thatcher of 
Massachusetts. 

The third time Randolph took any part in the 
debates completed, as it appears, the probationary 
state of their almost life-long friendship. With all 
hopes of the war gone the Federalists, it appears, 
would have ceased calling for appropriations. On 
the contrary additional expenditure was asked, and, 
when Nicholas introduced a resolution for a reduc 
tion of the army, it met with determined opposi 
tion. Macon made his usual speech along the line 
of "Retrenchment and reform." "Some people 



148 NATHANIEL MACON. 

think borrowing five or six millions a trifling thing," 
he said. "We may leave it for our children to pay. 
This is unjust. If we contract a debt we ought to 
pay it, and not leave it to your children. What 
should we think of a father who would run in debt 
and leave it for his children to pay ? But the want 
of money is not regarded. To be sure it is much 
easier to vote money than to lay taxes, because peo 
ple do not directly feel the vote, but if taxed they 
must instantly know it ; therefore loaning is the way 
most practiced. Notwithstanding the great increase 
of capital which the gentleman (Henry Lee) told 
us of, from eighteen to fifty millions, yet we have 
been obliged with all this increase to borrow 
money, and now are told we want somewhere about 
five millions more this year. We are told the peo 
ple are fond of economy, this is true, and I think 
they will willingly pay all the taxes that we can 
convince them are necessary; but ought we not to 
save all the expenses which are not absolutely neces 
sary ? * * * Another loan ? We can not make 
money here by any means but work; labor is our 
only resource, therefore our money concerns ought 
to be well husbanded." And a little further, "If we 
get ourselves poor while the enemy is at a distance 
we shall be obliged to resort to enormous taxes if 
he should really come to our doors." The army 
was to him entirely useless. "Whenever an army 
is really wanted the patriotism of the people will 
always supply the emergency" a militia, a good 
militia was everything "a free country" required. A 
little later Randolph arose to defend the resolution 
for the reduction of the army by ridiculing in his 
inimitable manner this hireling army, in a way 
which every Southern Republican must have en 
joyed, and which Macon seems to have liked, though 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 149 

his own even-tempered nature would never have 
permitted him to say the same: "The military 
parade which meets the eye in almost every direc 
tion excites the gall of our citizens ; they feel a 
just indignation at the sight of loungers, who live 
upon the public, who consume the fruits of their 
honest industry under the pretext of protecting 
them from a foreign yoke. They put no confi 
dence, sir, in the protection of a handful of raga 
muffins ; they know that when danger comes they 
must meet it, and they only ask arms at your hands." 
After a rather long but telling address which seems 
to have made the Federalists wince, to which they 
were compelled, however, to listen, by his fasci 
nating manner and startling wit, Randolph took his 
seat. He had said too much, perhaps, for some of 
his party, but all recognized in him a leader whose 
tongue was equal to the proverbial two-edged 
sw ord. 1 

That night Macon and Randolph went to the 
theater together and some young officers of the 
navy took occasion to resent in a personal way the 
epithet, ragamuffin, which had been so successfully 
applied in the speech of the afternoon. The officers 
came repeatedly into the box where Macon and 
Randolph were sitting, repeating at every oppor 
tunity the word "ragamuffin" until it was quite 
clear that some difficulty might be expected. Macon 
called the attention of Van Rensalser, who sat near 
him, to the matter, and when the theater was over, 
Macon and his friends formed a sort of guard to 
see Randolph safely home. On descending the 
steps an attempt at personal violence was made, but 
Macon s stalwart form and big walking cane were 
sufficient to convince the young navy officers that a 

i Annals of Congress, 6th Cong., ist Sess.. 298. 



150 NATHANIEL MACON. 

safe distance in the rear would be better for them. 
Randolph was escorted to his apartments. Next day 
he very unwisely laid the matter before the President 
and that, too, in a half-insulting manner. Adams 
humiliated Randolph by sending the letter at once to 
the House, where it was read publicly and not a little 
merriment was had at the expense of its author. A 
committee was appointed to investigate the subject 
and Macon was named a member of it, but he was, 
by special request, excused from serving. Nothing 
was done by the committee; but the ridiculous atti 
tude into which this episode, especially the latter 
part of it, brought Randolph, did not lessen Macon s 
admiration for him. From this time, on they were 
inseparable friends, though as different as two 
human beings could well be : Macon plain, ten years 
older, experienced in parliamentary practice, gifted 
with no powers of eloquence whatever, a staid 
judge in the halls of Congress; Randolph young, 
inexperienced, a brilliant wit and more brilliant 
orator and "proud as forty kings." On one point 
they were entirely agreed : The State is everything 
in this American Union. And this it was, that 
brought them to agree in most other things, and 
which caused them to call each other Davids and 
Jonathans and to spend weeks on each other s plan 
tation during the intervals of Congress like school 
boys on their vacation trips. 

Macon, faithful to the instructions from the North 
Carolina Assembly, introduced a resolution in Con 
gress on January 23d demanding the repeal of the 
Sedition law. It was as follows : 

"Resolved, That the second section of the act, 
passed I4th of July, one thousand, seven hundred 
and ninety-eight, entitled an act in addition to an 
act, etc., * * * ought to be repealed ; and the 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 151 

offences therein specified shall remain punishable 
as at common law." 

Though the Federalists purposely interrupted him 
by laughing and talking, he proceeded at length to 
defend the resolution: (i) beyond a doubt this 
was not a subject over which the National Govern 
ment had any authority, which, he claimed, was 
shown by the debates of the several State conven 
tions, i787- 88. To convince the House of this he 
quoted somewhat at length from the debates of 
these conventions. (2) It was good policy that any 
citizen be allowed absolute freedom to discuss every 
act of government, and that there was no other 
effective means for this but the press. "If elec 
tions are to be free, the people ought to have the 
liberty of freely investigating the character, con 
duct and ability of each candidate for any place of 
public trust. (3) The press is amongst the best 
gifts bestowed on man, its benefits are incalculable 
and if we had the power to touch it, prudence would 
dictate to us to do it with great caution. Bayard of 
Delaware made an amendment with intent to 
destroy the repealing resolution of Macon and sup 
ported his amendment with a long speech. The 
amendment was passed and Macon voted against 
his own motion in that emasculated form, so that 
the Sedition laws were left standing until they 
expired by limitation a year later. 

At the opening of the second session of the Sixth 
Congress, Macon, in recognition of his ten years 
opposition to almost all claims, was made Chairman 
of the Committee on Claims, and, as it used to be 
said of that honest German "Watchdog of the Treas 
ury," Peter Hagner, the Second Auditor, it was 
indeed a deserving claim which ran the gauntlet of 
Macon s committee. Such a Chairman of the Com- 



152 NATHANIEL MACON. 

mittee on Claims in Washington at the beginning of 
the twentieth century would be a holy terror, would 
hardly escape lynching at the hands of hungry sol 
diers who never shot a gun. One of the first resolu 
tions which came before the House at this session 
was that "a mausoleum of American granite and 
marble, in pyramid form, one hundred feet square 
at the base, and of a proportionate height, shall be 
erected in testimony of the love and gratitude of the 
citizens of the United States to George Washing 
ton." Macon distinguished himself unenviably by 
making a speech against the resolution, which, since 
it gave rise to much criticism of an adverse nature, 
deserves some special attention here. He opposed 
it (i) because the cost ($70,000, estimated) was too 
great: "I well know how hardly earned is the 
money from which this enormous ( !) sum must pro 
ceed. But this is only a beginning; the final cost 
might be many times more. (2) I saw no good 
purpose likely to be answered by it under the sun. 
Can stones show gratitude? If the nation wished 
to show gratitude, let them do it by making an his 
tory of the life of Washington a school-book. Our 
children then will learn and imitate his virtues. 
This will be rendering the highest tribute to his 
fame, by making it the instrument of enlightening 
the mind and improving the heart." (3) This 
expending of millions, which he predicted would be 
the result, was "useless and pernicious ostentation." 
He then referred naively to Aristides and Hampden, 
saying no monuments had ever been erected to them, 
yet every man knew of their service. "Washington 
is admired and beloved by all. No one can be 
charged with a desire to diminish his fame by oppo 
sing a useless expenditure of money. The prece 
dent ive now establish will be auspicious to our 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 153 

future measures. If we decline raising a mauso 
leum to Washington, no man who succeeds him can 
ever expect one reared to his memory." 

These are the principal grounds of Macon s 
opposition. Whether they were founded in gener 
ous and reasonable gratitude, the reader may deter 
mine for himself. They were principles of life 
with him, both in public and private things. His 
coterie of followers, rather the followers of Jeffer 
son in the strictest sense, held the same views. It will 
be remembered that the Sage of Monticello made 
provision in his will directing that only a plain 
granite stone some six feet tall should mark his 
grave. And later it will be seen how extremely 
eccentric were Macon s own directions in this partic 
ular. He surely believed what he said in this oppo 
sition to Washington s monument; and most of his 
Republican colleagues agreed with him, as did the 
majority of his party at home. Randolph, too, 
opposed the Washington monument; but he spoke 
more in defence of his beloved Virginia than to the 
question under consideration. Virginians had been 
called vandals in the debates on this subject, and 
Williamsburg was pointed out as a place where 
they had torn down monuments erected to the dead. 
The bill making the necessary appropriations finally 
passed by a vote of forty-five to thirty-seven. 
Among the negatives appeared six North Carolin 
ians, one an ex-Governor of the State who had done 
most to get the crowning work of Washington, the 
Constitution, adopted by his State. 1 

Instead of allowing the sedition law to die an 
easy death, the Federalists brought in a resolution 
this session to renew it. This was more than 

i Richard Dobbs Spaight. 



154 NATHANIEL MACON. 

Macon could endure, and once more we find him 
contending with his superiors in debate for the 
liberty of the press. He went over the usual argu 
ments, and preferred the customary charges against 
his opponents. Answering the taunt that he always 
found a measure unconstitutional when it did not 
agree with his policy, he said : "The answer to this 
question is very easy. There is another part of the 
House that never questions the constitutionality of 
anything; and if one part questions the constitu 
tionality of everything, the other does not of any 
thing; one side believes it has limits, the other 
believes it has no limits." The Committee of the 
Whole, to which Macon spoke, reported favorably 
on the resolution, but only by the deciding vote of 
the Speaker. When the bill came up for a final 
reading, and after Jefferson s election had sealed the 
fate of the Federalists, it failed only by the opposing 
vote of some new members who had come in to take 
places accidentally made vacant. 

This last speech of Macon on the sedition acts, 
shows more of partisanship than any of the previous 
ones, as it also shows him to be more conversant 
with the plans of his party and those of his oppo 
nents. During the ten years of constant service in 
the House, Macon had been steadily gaining in 
experience ; he remembered perfectly its important 
precedents, and was recognized at this time as being 
the best informed member on the rules of every Con 
gress since he had been attending. He was, by 
sheer force of character and by ten years of unflinch 
ing consistency, the leader, after Gallatin, of his 
party in the House. I have already pointed out that 
the bent of his mind was toward the judicial, which, 
as the House was then organized, and with its show 
of non-partisanship in the proceedings, had won 



MACON AND FEDERALIST SUPREMACY. 155 

him so nearly a majority of votes for the Speaker- 
ship in 1799. When Macon made his first speech 
in Congress, he was scarcely listened to; now the 
leaders of the Federalists thought it necessary to 
oppose his arguments and to counteract his influ- 



i Anuals of Congress, 5th Cong., ad Sess., 966 ; note Dennis reply to 
Macon ; Schouler, I., 465, 



CHAPTER XL 
THE: REVOLUTION OF 1800. 

The struggles of the two great parties described 
in the last chapters had aroused the country by the 
autumn of 1800 as it had never been before since 
1776. Each party was doing its utmost to win in 
the coming contest. Jefferson directed the cam 
paign of the Republicans from his seat at the head 
of the Senate, and in every State his lieutenants car 
ried out these directions ; copies of the Virginia 
and Kentucky Resolutions, as they were designated 
after the debates of Virginia on the subject in 1799, 
were sent out in great numbers; trials under the 
sedition laws were being used as object lessons, 
protests against the carrying of State law cases into 
the Federal Courts were drawn by Jefferson himself 
and after being assigned by the most prominent 
men in Virginia, they were published broadcast. 
Aaron Burr began the National campaign by carry 
ing the city of New York for the Republicans. Gerry 
exerted a powerful influence for the rising party in 
Massachusetts. McKean and Mifflin, having gained 
the legislature of Pennsylvania for their party in the 
fall of 1799, were fanning the popular prejudice 
against the Federalists in that State by sending out 
handbills, which represented that Adams, if re- 
elected, would help Connecticut win in the great 
lawsuit then pending against Pennsylvania claims 
for large indemnity arising out of the old Con 
necticut land patents. When Jefferson took his 
seat as Vice-President, in 1796, Madison had 



THE REVOLUTION OF l8oO. 157 

resigned from Congress in order to re-enter the 
Virginia Assembly for the purpose of keeping that 
great State true to the tenets of the Jefferson party. 
From 1796 to 1800 Madison managed Virginia as 
adroitly as Burr was managing New York, but with- 
out adopting such questionable means as have been 
charged against the latter. Monroe s sudden recall 
from Paris, in 1796, had been the means of greatly 
increasing the popularity of his party. Monroe was 
Jefferson s candidate for Governor of Virginia in 
1800, and he was elected. The Breckenridge and 
Nicholson families led in the Kentucky campaign for 
Jefferson; and Henry Clay, then a young man just 
entering politics, made speeches advocating Jeffer 
son s election. South Carolina, still nominally 
under the control of the Federalists had been 
wrought upon by the maltreatment of John Rut- 
ledge because of his opposition to the Jay treaty; 
Washington had nominated him, in 1795, for a seat 
on the Supreme Court bench; but the Senate 
rejected the nomination because of a speech made 
in Charleston against the adoption of the celebrated 
treaty. Rutledge had been a friend of both Wash 
ington and Jefferson. This affair carried him and 
all his connections over the Republicans. Edward 
Rutledge and Charles Pinckney were both taken 
into Jefferson s political correspondence. All of 
these, with others such as Gideon Granger of the 
hopelessly Federalist state of Connecticut, and brave 
old Sam Adams, of Massachusetts were constantly 
receiving Jefferson s winsome letters. 

In the year 1796 there came to Philadelphia a man 
who had an influential role in the Revolution of 
1800, a political refugee from Pitt s Alien and Sedi 
tion laws in England, young Joseph Gales, editor of 



158 NATHANIEL MACON. 

the Sheffield Register. Gales was a sensible, well-ed 
ucated man, whose newspaper had brought him more 
persecution than wealth. Finding it impossible for 
one of his political faith to edit a paper in peace 
under George III., he migrated to America, where 
he began again in Philadelphia; but to his surprise 
the City of Brotherly Love was a no safer place for 
him than Sheffieid had been. It would have been 
next to impossible for him to steer safely between 
the Scylla and Charybdis of Federalist and Republi 
can politics in that chaldron of commotion. One 
day he met Nathaniel Macon, who apparently 
recognized the worth of the man and the difficulties 
of his situation, and at once recommended to him 
the establishment of a newspaper in the new North 
Carolina capital Raleigh. Gales was pleased with 
the prospect, and in due time the old Sheffield Reg 
ister became the Raleigh Register. 1 All the liberal 
ideas, which had brought confiscation of type and 
worse in old England, were brought along and soon 
became the permanent stock of the new Raleigh 
paper. Its editor at once took decided stand for 
good schools, good morals, and Republican politics. 
Not a year had passed before good Mr. Gales had 
mortally offended Mr. Boylan, editor of the Feder 
alist paper in the town, and the two met one 
day on Hillsboro street, and without let or hind 
rance from the police, fought out their differences 
to their own satisfaction. The source of the 
trouble was that Gales had espoused the cause of 
Jefferson and Macon in the State, and his paper 
had turned out to be a better one than the Republi 
cans were supposed to be capable of establishing or 
supporting. The Register was arousing public 
opinion in North Carolina against the Adams admin- 

1 Hudson : Journalism in the United States, 229. 



THE REVOLUTION OF l8oO. 159 

istration. It published each week the accounts of 
prosecutions under the Sedition laws and gave full 
space to denunciations of a standing army, citing 
an example close at home in the shape of the Sixth 
U. S. Regiment, then encamped in Raleigh two 
years after all danger of war was passed, which the 
RepuK-i; ans thought was a sort of garrison to keep 
the Carolinians in subjection. 1 Besides, the editor 
of the Register managed to send his paper free to 
prospective converts to his party in all parts of the 
State. 2 Such was the work of Macon s young 
friend. 

The operation of the Federal land tax was hav 
ing its effect also on the voters of North Carolina 
country gentlemen. The Register claimed that it 
took directly from the people $200,000 a year for the 
purposes of the general government which amount 
ed to more than one-third of the total annual exports 
of the State. 3 This no doubt is an exaggerated 
statement, for it is doubtful if more than sixty thou 
sand a year was collected in North Carolina from the 
land tax. The Tories, who had been pardoned for 
their behavior in the Revolution and larger numbers 
still who had been open sympathizers with the Brit 
ish, but who had not become amenable to the law, all 
supported the Federalist party. 4 Judge Chase rode 
the Southern Circuit of the Supreme Court again in 
1800, and gave such round abuse or partizan advice 
to the grand juries wherever he went, and consigned 
to jail or punishment with such heavy fines so many 
who were considered Republicans, that his party 
could not escape the charge of using the National 

* Raleigh Register, July 29, 1800 : Sept, 5, 1801. 

2 Letter of Duncan Cameron to John Moore of Lincolnton, Sept. 1802. 

3 Raleigh Register, July 29, 1800. 

4 Judge Schenck : North Carolina, i78o- 8i : case of Duncan McFar- 
land ; See also Legislative Journals for 1802. 



160 NATHANIEL MACON. 

judiciary for political purposes. The appointment 
of Davie in i%99 in place of Patrick Henry as envoy 
to France had been a graceful recognition of the 
enthusiastic support the North Carolina Federalists 
had given the President; but in the then so evenly 
balanced state of parties it was an unwise step. 
Davie, more than any other man, could have con 
trolled the politics of the State in the interest of 
Adams. It will be remembered Davie had been 
chosen Governor in 1798. The general practice of 
both parties was to retain a Governor three years, 
which would certainly have been continued with so 
popular and able a man as Davie. This would have 
given the State a Federalist Governor in 1800. The 
State Senate was still in their hands and the House 
was Republican by only a small majority. With 
Davie removed from the State, the balance of 
power fell to the party of Jefferson, a Republican 
Governor Benjamin Williams having succeeded 
him. Jefferson would never have made such a blun 
der in his appointments. 

What share Macon had in the exciting- campaign 
of 1800 can not be determined exactly, since so few 
records exist to show it. That he was the leader 
of the Republicans is shown by his correspondence 
with Jefferson during the following spring. 1 The 
President gave Macon the control of Federal patron 
age and called on him for nominations of men suit 
able for Federal appointments whether there were 
vacancies or not. And many years later Jefferson 
refers to Macon as one of those "old Republicans" 
who helped him save the country in 1800. Macon s" 
assistance in the establishment of a strong Republi 
can newspaper shows, too, how great an interest he 
had in the issues at stake. 

i Macon to Jefferson, April 20 and 27, 1801, and Jefferson to Macon, 
May 4, 1801. 



THE REVOLUTION OF 1800. 161 

The presidential electors were then regularly 
chosen in North Carolina by popular vote in the 
districts very much as at present. In view of 
the popularity of Jefferson the Federalist Senate 
and Governor in 1798 attempted to change the 
method of choosing electors so that they should be 
appointed by the Houses of the Assembly in joint 
session. This would probably have given Adams 
all of the electors, since the House was Republican 
by so small a majority; or if not all, certainly some 
of the body. The plan was clearb- to prevent the 
will of the majority from being expressed. The 
Federalists had the example of Pennsylvania before 
them. There the Republicans carried the State by 
five thousand majority in the fall of 1799, but they 
failed to gain control of the Senate. The Senate 
refused to go into joint session with the Republican 
House for the purpose of choosing presidential elec 
tors, having determined to prevent the vote of the 
State from being cast at all. The House insisting 
that the people were with them clamoured for a joint 
session until it became evident to the Senate that 
persistency in their policy would call down upon 
their party everlasting infamy. It yielded at last, 
but only by a compromise which gave Adams seven 
votes to Jefferson s eight, which was a neutraliza 
tion of Pennsylvania s strength with the exception 
of one vote this, too, when the Governor and the 
House and a decided majority of the people were 
Republican. The same state of affairs existed in 
Raleigh after Davie s departure for France, except 
the law changing the manner of selecting electors 
had not passed and that in Davie s stead there was a 
Republican Governor. The slight Republican major 
ity in the House defeated the new election law and so 

ii 



162 NATHANIEL MACON. 

prevented the State from being neutralized at least to 
the same extent that Pennsylvania had been. 1 

North Carolina, the plan of "capturing- the legis 
lature" failing, became the scene of a most lively 
popular excitement. In 1796 there had been but a 
single electoral vote cast for Adams, that of the 
Fayeteville district ; but since that time a great Fed 
eralist rally had taken place; in 1797 Archibald 
Henderson "carried" the Salisbury district for the 
Federalists; in 1799 New Hanover and adjoining 
counties sent an Adams man to Congress and at the 
same time Joseph Dickson, of Duplin, prevailed in 
a similar way over the Republican candidate. So 
that there were four Federalists in the National 
House of Representatives at the time Macon was 
trying, with the help of his lively editor, Gales, to 
"carry" North Carolina for the Republicans. His 
undertaking was not an easy one. Madison wrote 
concerning North Carolina on December 29th, 
1799: "But it is impossible to calculate the progress 
of delusion, especially in a State where it is said 
to be under systematic management, and where 
there is so little, either of system or of exertion to 
oppose it;" 2 and Jefferson s opinion of North Car 
olina politics, August nth, 1800, was: "The state of 
the public mind in North Carolina appears mysteri 
ous to us." 3 And it is interesting to note that the 
above named districts were for years to come faith 
ful to the principles of Federalism; Fayetteville 
and Salisbury districts sent Federalists to Congress 
as long as there was a Federalist party and in the 
latter district Archibald Henderson acquired a kind 
of hereditary claim to a seat in Congress. When 

1 Compare Schouler, I., 492-493. 

2 Works, II., 152. 

3 Writings, VII. , 449- 



REVOLUTION OF 1800. 163 

the election came off, the Republicans won six and 
the Federalists four of the electoral votes. 1 

The same practice of "capturing the legislature" 
prevailed in all parts of the Union. In Massachu 
setts, where there were two or three Republican 
districts, the legislature selected all sixteen of her 
electors from the Federalists ; in New York a worse 
than Pennsylvania scheme would have succeeded 
but for Jay s patriotism and Burr s powers of 
manipulation; the vote of New Jersey, another 
close State, was given entire to Adams. South 
Carolina was divided also, and Hamilton, seeking by 
a shrewd maneuver to get Pinckney, candidate for 
Vice-Presidency, into the President s chair over 
Adams, the regular candidate, advised the Federal 
ists to agree to a swapping of candidates, i. e., to 
cast their eight votes for Jefferson and Pinckney. 
But Pinckney, true to Adams as he was, refused to 
cooperate in the dishonorable plan. The outcome was 
that the State voted for Jefferson and Burr, the reg 
ular Republican candidates. Virginia, North Car 
olina, and Maryland were the only States whose 
electors were chosen by popular vote in districts. 
And Maryland being evenly divided cast six votes 
for Adams and six for Jefferson. Virginia, under 
the control of Madison, Monroe, and Jefferson him 
self, cast all her votes for the Republican candi 
dates. 2 

But with so many contingencies in the choice of 
electors in the State legislatures, there was no cer 
tainty as to the final outcome of the momentous 
campaign until late in December, when the returns 
all came in, and so the politicians were busy until 

1 Annals of Congress, 6th Cong., 2d Sess., 1024 

2 Annals of Congress, 6lh Cong., 2d Sess., 1024. 



164 NATHANIEL MACON. 

the very last legislature had cast its vote. The 
announcement of a tie between Jefferson and Burr 
to both Houses on February nth, 1801, was the sig 
nal for the beginning of a second campaign of Fed 
eralist intrigue against the will of the majority 
plainly expressed. They meant to use Burr as an 
entering wedge; and he was too ambitious not to 
accept the Presidency at the hands of his political 
opponents, could they but bring about a combina 
tion which would secure them the necessarv major 
ity. Burr had been vilified almost as much as 
Jefferson himself, and what was worse, he was 
believed to be dishonorable. The Federalists were 
ready to accept him in the hope that, owing his elec 
tion to them, he would give them control of Fed 
eral patronage. The best commentary on the 
motives of the Federalists at this juncture is a let- 
ter from their leader, James A. Bayard, of Dela 
ware, to Allen McLane, a Federal office holder in 
Wilmington, Delaware: "Mr. Jefferson is our Pres 
ident. Our opposition was continued till it was 
demonstrated that Burr would not be brought in, 
and even if he could, he meant to come in as a Demo 
crat. In such case to evidence his sincerity he 
must have swept every office in the United States. 
I have direct information that Jefferson will not 
pursue this plan. The New England gentlemen 
came out and declared they meant to go without a 
constitution and take the risk of civil war. They 
agreed that those who would not agree to incur such 
an extremity ought to secede without loss of time. 
We pressed them to go with us and preserve unity 
in our measures. After great agitation and much 
heat they all agreed but one. But in consequence 
of his standing: out the others refused to abandon 



THE REVOLUTION OF l8oO. 165 

their old friend. Mr. Jay did not eet a Federal 
vote. Vermont gave a vote by means of Morris 
withdrawing. The same thing hanoened with 
Maryland and the votes of South Carolina and Del 
aware were blank. / have taken good care of you 
and think if prudent you are safe."**- A Virginia 
Federalist wrote some of his constituents for advice 
whom to vote for, as follows : "With resoect to the 
two men who stand before us for the Presidency, 
from the best information that I am able to get, in 
point of character and moral principles they are 
pretty equal ; in point of talents, with a mind fearless 
of the boldest undertaking, Burr has greatly the 
superiority, and therefore abundantly the most dan 
gerous * * *. Not being able to make up my 
mind as to which would be best I shall write to my 
friends and be governed by their opinions." 2 

One of his constituents wrote in reply: "Since I 
have seen the dangerous doctrine said to be ad 
vanced by Jefferson, I am induced decidedlv to give 
the preference to Mr. Burr. Jefferson is less prob 
able to be governed by generous principles than Mr. 
Burr." Colonel Francis Peyton, one of his most 
influential constituents, advised him to support Jef 
ferson, since the election of the latter would have 
the effect of quieting things in Virginia. Thomas 
J. Page, of the same district, deplored the "dreadful 
alternative" of being compelled to choose between 
two such bad characters: "Burr s character is sus 
picious and Jefferson will destroy the support of 
our commerce. If Jefferson be chosen, not the 

1 Bayard to Macl^ane, February 17, 1801. A copy of this letter may be 
found in the Macon MS3. in possession of Mrs. W. K. Martin of Rich 
mond, Va. 

2 Iveven Powell, London County, Va., to Burr Powell, Jan. 12, 1801. 
The lyeven Powell MSS. are in possession of Miss Rebecca Powell, Alex 
andria, Va. 



166 NATHANIEL MACON. 

smallest vestige of our navy will remain. Yet the 
people of our section all prefer him to Burr." 1 

From February nth to February i;th this last 
and most serious struggle between the opposing sec 
tions of the country continued. Every means of 
defeating the popular will was resorted to, and at 
one stage of the conflict it was agreed among the 
Federalists to maintain the deadlock in the House 
until March 4th, when the Adams administration 
would expire. This would have brought the gov 
ernment to an end and they counted on one of their 
own party to take the reins of government in hand ; 
a bill passing Congress for that purpose, which 
would not have been improbable, since both houses 
were controlled by Federalist majorities. In case 
such a program had been adopted, Jefferson s coun 
ter-plan was a call of a new convention of States to 
be issued by the new Congress, called together by 
himself and Burr, the two candidates nearest the 
Presidency by the late election. 

The intensest excitement prevailed throughout the 
country; special couriers were placed along the 
great road to the South via Alexandria, Richmond, 
and Weldon to carry the news from Washington. 
Caucuses of either party were held daily; wild 
reports were constantly circulating to the effect that 
Virginia and Pennsylvania militia were about to 
march on Washington or that now one, now another, 
of the leading Federalists was about to make a coup 
d etat. In Virginia "the violent Dems," said Col 
onel Peyton "are determined to shoulder their mus 
kets in case Jefferson or Burr is not elected." In 
North Carolina the excitement was not so srreat and 
no threats to rise in arms for Jefferson, so far as can 
be ascertained, were made. 

i Branch Historical Papers, I., 57-62, Randolph-Macon College, Va. 



REVOLUTION OF 1800. 167 

Macon voted steadily for Jefferson on every bal- 
lot while four of his colleagues, Henderson, Hill, 
Dickson, and Grove, generally voted for Burr. 1 At 
the end of the thirty-sixth ballot, Macon wrote his 
friend Bigelow on the Roanoke : 

"The House of Representatives this day made the 
36 ballot for President, when Jefferson was elected 
by ten states. 

"I am, Sir, yr most obt svt 

NATHL MACON." 

Jefferson accordingly became President and Burr 
Vice-President, and they were peaceably inau 
gurated on the 4th of March following in the little 
city of Washington, whence the government had 
been transferred during the preceding summer. 
The few remaining days of the session after the 
Presidential election brought forward nothing new. 
Macon was present to the last to witness what he 
had so long wished and worked for the inaugura 
tion of his friend Jefferson, from whom he expected 
everything possible in the way of good government. 
And after witnessing that extremely informal event 
and hearing the inaugural address with some dissat 
isfaction, he returned to his beloved Buck Spring. 

i Annals of Congress, 6th Cong., 2d Sess., 1032. 



CHAPTER XII. 

REPUBLICAN SUPREMACY, l8oi-l8o5. 

Mention has already been made of the semi-dis 
satisfaction with which Macon heard some of the 
statements of Jefferson s short inaugural address. 
Scarce a month had passed before we find him 
inquiring of Jefferson directly what the country 
might expect. April 20, 23, and again May i, 
Macon wrote concerning this subject. From Jef 
ferson s reply 1 we learn in the main what had been 
Macon s inquiries. They were: What about the 
levees, a subject of some concern to the Southern 
republicans generally; How will communications 
from the President to Congress be made, Will the 
diplomatic corps be reduced? Can t the salaries of 
Custom House officers be cut down? And last, 
what changes do you propose to make in the army 
and navy establishments? Macon took the policy 
of his party seriously and meant that every promise 
of the past few years should now be fulfilled, and 
he was not quite sure about Jefferson s purpose now 
that he was elected. Another subiect seems also to 
have been discussed in Macon s letters : What rules 
were to be observed in the appointments of the 
executive? And here the author shows himself a 
partisan, though a mild one. He does not think 
men who had assisted the British in the Revolution 
should be permitted to hold office under the govern 
ment of the United States. The Federalists had been 
indifferent to this subject and, as will appear later, 

i Jefferson s Writings ( Ford), VII: Betters of April and May, passim. 



REPUBLICAN SUPREMACY. 169 

they had appointed men to office who had actually 
borne arms against America. 

On May 14, Jefferson answered all Macon s 
inquiries: "Levees are done away; communications 
to Congress will be by message; the diplomatic 
corps will be reduced to three ministers; the army 
and navy will undergo a chaste reform ; the salaries 
of Revenue officers depend on you the Representa 
tives. We shall push you to the utmost in econ 
omy." Nothing more could have been desired, and 
we have no further record of Macon s fears for 
some time to come. 

As to appointments, no foreigner, no Revolution 
ary Tory was to be given employment. And in 
response to a recommendation Macon had made in 
favor of the appointment of Henry Potter as district 
Judge in North Carolina, the President forwarded 
to Macon the commission, 1 asking him to insist upon 
Potter s acceptance: "Should it be otherwise," he 
continued, "you. must recommend some other good 
person. I had rather be guided by your opinion than 
that of the persons you referred me to . . . ; let me re 
ceive a recommendation from you as quickly as pos 
sible, and in all cases when an office becomes vacant 
in your state, as the distance would occasion a great 
delay were you to wait to be consulted. I shall be 
much obliged to you to recommend the best charac 
ters. There is nothing I am so anxious about as 
making the best appointments." The policy then of 
the administration was in full accord with Macon s 
with regard to patronage, and what must have been 
flattering to himself, he was to name the Federal 
officers for North Carolina. And no man in the 
state would have been more likely to name the very 
best men. That this was no empty compliment of 

1 Macon to Jefferson, May 24, 1801. 



170 NATHANIEL, MACON. 

the President to one of his party lieutenants is 
shown by a second request of the same nature 
eighteen months later. 1 Macon succeeded in get 
ting Potter to Become United States Judge and wrote 
Jefferson, May 24, following : "In every recommen 
dation I shall carefully endeavor to select such as 
can discharge the duty of the office, and have been 
uniformly democratic, although I do not wish any 
person turned out of office, who was a Whig in the 
Revolutionary war, for any opinions he may now 
hold, yet I would not recommend one for office who 
had not always been Republican." To illustrate 
how careful he was on the question of loyalty dur 
ing the Revolution, he added in the same^ letter: "I 
have been informed that the collector at Edenton 
was, during the war, a New York-Long Island- 
Tory, but of the fact I have not sufficient informa 
tion to speak positively. If it be so, ought he to be 
continued ? The fact, I suppose, can be ascertained 
next winter in Washington." He was then in 
earnest about this part of his policy, and who among 
his opponents even could have censured him for 
this? 

The letter concludes with the following infor 
mation concerning North Carolina politics in the 
spring of 1801 : "I am pretty well assured, that a 
systematic opposition may be expected. It was 
probably organized at Washington last winter. I 
have been a good deal about since my return, and 
find the feds, everywhere trying to impress their 
principles on the people, but without effect. Gen 
eral Davie is not returned. I shall endeavor to see 
him as soon as possible. I sincerely hope that he 
may be willing to undertake the negotiation with the 
Indians. Your acquaintance, Mr. Willie Jones, is, 

1 October 18, 1802. 



REPUBLICAN SUPREMACY. 171 

I fear not long; for this world. He is unable to 
walk, and there is no probability that he ever will 
again." These few lines hint clearly at the policy 
of Jefferson as respects North Carolina. Davie, on 
his return from Paris, was to be offered an impor 
tant commission. This was for the purpose of 
arranging treaties with the Indians of the South 
west and incidentally to weaken the opposition by 
gaining its most powerful leader. Macon was in 
formed of the plan and was delegated to visit Davie 
and urge him to accept. About the same time Jef 
ferson wrote Benjamin Hawkins, an ardent Feder 
alist who had lost caste in North Carolina in 1796, 
asking him to recommend fit persons for appoint 
ment to vacancies in North Carolina. The same 
request which had been made of Macon on May 14. 
This of course was an attempt to conciliate another 
powerful opposing influence in the South. Hawkins 
was won and he was continued many years in the 
lucrative office of Indian Commissioner to the Creek 
nation. Davie, too, accepted office under the new 
administration, but he did not give it his support. 
A year later 1 Macon saw Davie in Raleigh and had 
some conversation with him; but Davie was non 
committal. Macon was active during the summer 
of 1 80 1 in finding out the political status of his 
State; he "went much among the people" and 
reported the prevailing sentiment. It was a touch 
ing reference he makes to the condition of his old 
captain of years gone by, Willie Jones : "I fear he is 
not long for this world." This is the only recorded 
reference I have been able to find bearing on the 
final end of that extraordinary man, except that he 
died about this time in Raleigh, where he had gone 
to live, and was buried in a field near the present 

i Macon to Jeflerson, June 17, 1802. 



172 NATHANIEL MACON. 

site of the St. Augustine school for negroes, about a 
mile northeast of the Capitol. No stone, no inscrip 
tion marks his resting place. 

Congress assembled promptly that December, and 
on the first day of their session and on the first ballot 
Nathaniel Macon was elected Speaker. Schouler, 
in his history of the United States, says Macon 
"was a man of independent views and upright char 
acter, of frugal tendencies in public and private, 
not always in full sympathy with his party, but dif 
fering dispassionately when he differed at all ; and 
so constantly re-elected, as in later years to be 
called the Father of the House." 1 These charac 
teristics were in the main the cause of his election 
to the speakership. He had developed in Congress 
/more of the character of a iudee than of a party 
leader and a wise judge, too, and as has been noted 
in a former chapter, he knew the history of the 
House, its precedents in all important measures; 
he had served ten years, had seldom been absent 
from his seat and had taken a decided stand in every 
debate which had come up during- those years; he 
had done good work on various committees and 
had but once in his ten years in Congress been 
called to order by the Speaker ; besides, he had the 
confidence of the President and consequently the 
support of the great Virginia delegation, especially 
that of the tall, sallow youth from up the Roanoke* 
John Randolph. On the following day the new 
Speaker appointed young Randolph chairman of 
the Committee on Ways and Means. With Jeffer 
son as President, Macon as Speaker of the House 
and Randolph at the head of the most important 
committee in Congress, genuine Republican meas 
ures and manners were sure to have the right of 

* Schouler, II., 20. 



REPUBLICAN SUPREMACY. 1Y3 

way in Washington; and the Republican political 
machine was in fine order, well oiled and ready for 
the fierce onslaughts, which every one expected. 
One head, one mind dominated that Congress and 
several succeeding ones, and for the time being 
there was smooth sailing for the ship of state. 

Jefferson recommended in his message just what 
he had promised Macon on May 14, preceding cut 
ting down of expenditure and, what was not prom 
ised and whajt no President has since done, he 
greatly reduced the patronage of his own office ; he 
dispersed all those miserable hangers-on for secret 
service money, and soon, with the help of his able 
Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, he 
reduced the accounts of a great government to the 
simplicity of a merchant s account books. The 
first Republican president set the fashionable world, 
what there was in Washington, to guessing what 
would happen next no levees, no restraint, no fash 
ionable hours, every one being admitted at any time 
to the President s presence; foreign ambassadors 
having no special claim over an ordinary American 
citizen ! First one party, then another took offense 
at the unceremonious treatment accorded them, but 
no attention was given them, no amends made, until 
finally men came to realize that it was indeed a 
Republican government, planted there in the woods 
on the banks of the Potomac and no hybrid mon 
archy with a court of country snobs. Macon en 
joyed such an atmosphere and he talked of his 
"mess" with as much self-satisfaction as if it had 
been the most fashionable twentieth century hotel. 
He lived with Randolph and Joseph H. Nicholson 
in a small house near the present Treasury depart 
ment in about such style as a college boy with small 
means now lives, and when a friend or constituent 



174 NATHANIEL MACON. 

visited him, he never thought it inconvenient to 
share his bed with the visitor. He came to con 
gress on horseback, kept the horse close by his 
"mess," and during the intervals of the sessions of 
Congress he was often in the saddle going about 
the "City of magnificent distances," or riding far 
out the old Georgetown turnpike. His friend Ran 
dolph, however, came to Washington in a "coach 
and four" bringing his fox hounds, and it was not 
unusual, we are told, to see him enter the House of 
Representatives with a pair of dogs at his heels. 
It was a part of the plantation life of the Roanoke 
valley that these two men brought into the little 
Capital when they came, and carried away with 
them when they went. The two were often seen 
together, Macon, now forty-three years old, a tall, 
well-proportioned, healthy physique; Randolph, 
only twenty-eight, slender, delicate-looking, sallow- 
complexioned, with the promise of scarce another 
decade of life. But both were gentlemen, gentle- 
born, and Virginian in sentiment. They seldom 
disagreed, never during these brighter years of 
their lives. They were determined to give this 
country such a government as had never been seen 
any where, a government as simply conducted as a 
country debating society. 

The Federalists were making sport among them 
selves of this rustic regime from the South, the 
more than Roman virtue in public places. But it 
was all too serious a business to be laughed down. 
When Jefferson s retrenchment measures reducing 
the running expenses of the government from 
7,500,000 to 3,500,000 dollars a year came up, they 
declared it "imposible," made a strong fight against 
it, but were quieted by sheer numbers in the voting. 
It was on the repeal of the Judiciary bill that they 



REPUBLICAN SUPREMACY. 175 

made their last determined stand. The Republi 
cans had opposed from the beginning the extension 
of the Judiciary, but to no avail. A cumbrous sys 
tem had been devised by Hamilton in 1799, submit 
ted to Congress in the latter part of the session of 
1801, and became a law a short time before Adams 
term of office expired. The Federalists had made 
themselves berths against the day of defeat, and 
Adams was accommodating enough to help them 
all into these berths during his last days in Wash 
ington. The Republicans began early in the next 
session, in an unmerciful way, not to molest their 
opponents in their ease merely, but to break up the 
very foundations of it by abolishing all the new 
courts. John Breckinridge, of Kentucky, brought 
the dire resolution into the Senate January 6, 1802, 
and in a few days it passed ; then the House took it 
up and passed it by a vote of 59 to 32 ! The lawyers 
of the large cities made a blustering opposition and 
a meeting of the New T York bar resolved solemnly 
that if the bill before Congress should pass "this 
Union will at once crumble to pieces." Bayard did 
all that eloquence could do against a determined 
majority, i. e., he predicted that all the direful calam 
ities known to ancient Egypt would befall the coun 
try if the Republicans persisted in their perverse 
legislation. Randolph replied : " It is not on 
account of the paltry expense that I wish to see it 
frhe new judiciary) put down, but to give the 
death-blow to the pretension of rendering the judi 
ciary a hospital for decayed politicians." After the 
bill had passed, the House re-arranged the United 
States courts, greatly reducing the number of office 
holders, on a plan which served the purposes of 
judicial administration until after the close of the 
Civil War. 



170 NATHANIEL MACON. 

While these measures were taking place in Con 
gress the apportionment of Representatives was 
made the subject of a short debate. In this debate 
Randolph advanced a theory which was henceforth 
to become the text of his and Macon s political lives, 
and which was ultimately to end with William 
Lowndes Yancey and Civil W r ar. It was this : "The 
members of this House are not the representatives of 
the people over the United States," (not people of 
the United States ; Randolph believed there were 
none such) "but the representatives of the people of 
the individual States in their sovereign State capaci 
ties. " Bayard took Randolph to task and expressed 
the opinion that he was as much a representative of 
Virginia as Randolph himself. This was Federal- 
ism s extreme claim. As to the subject of the ratio 
of members the positions taken by both political par 
ties was exactly the reverse of their positions in 
1791 : the Federalists had then favored a small 
House of Representatives, now they advocated a 
large one; the Republicans had said in 1791 that the 
salvation of the country depended on a large House, 
now they were equally sure of a disaster from a large 
one. Macon s first service in Congress had been 
connected with this subject, and he then held opin 
ions contrary to his party; likewise in 1802 he dif 
fered from its leaders, even with his friend Ran 
dolph, except in the matter of State s individuality. 
As to the representation, he declared he would like 
a ratio so small that every man might know 7 person 
ally his representative in Congress. 1 
( After the passing of the retrenchment and reform 
rneasures both Republican and Federalist members 
of Congress began to sound public opinion. Th 
work of undoing Federalist legislation of which the 

1 Annals of Congress, ?th Cong., i Sess., 365-373. 



THE; REVOLUTION OF 1800. 177 

new Administration disapproved was begun and 
completed in one session and by May 3, the mem 
bers of Congress were returning to their constitu 
ents. The Administration and the general politics 
of Thomas Jefferson have been said to have been 
merely destructive his life was successful only as 
that of an obstructionist and his politics were bene 
ficial only in the sense of correcting abuses. In a 
single session he cleared the way for progressive, 
positive measures, fulfilled all the promises his 
party had made to the people and was ready to put 
into effect the first of his own plans of expansion 
the most important step in our history after the 
adoption of the Federal Constitution. But before 
we take up the study of Jefferson s politics, let us 
see how North Carolina was viewing the new 
regime, how it regarded the new President and his 
reforms. 

Macon wrote Jefferson within a month 1 after his 
return to Buck Spring: "Believing that it will not 
be disagreeable to you to hear the sentiments of the 
people in different parts of the Union, and having 
since my return been in three of the adjoining coun 
ties I with real pleasure inform you that all (except 
those who were not expected to be pleased) seem 
to be perfectly satisfied with the conduct of those, 
to whom they have entrusted the management of 
their public affairs. Some who before the electoral 
elections appeared to be almost indifferent as to the 
elector have declared their sincere approbation of 
the choice and their joy that the late election gave 
birth to an administration which deserves the "sup 
port of every American." In Raleigh things were 
going well, he thought; and let us hope he called to 
see his friend Gales, the editor. Davie was not 

1 Macon to Jefferson, June 17, 1802. 
12 



178 NATHANIEL MACON. 

ready to join the ranks of the Jefferson party as it 
seems from Macon s account of an interview. Davie 
was in reality preparing "to stand for Congress" 
against Willis Alston of Halifax, and rumors to that 
effect were already rife about Washington. Macon 
closes his letter by saying: "The only hope of the 
dissatisfied is to produce a division among the 
Republicans, of which I hope there is no danger. 
I also hope none of them want offices, office hunters 
are never to be satisfied." 

The plan of producing "a division among the 
Republicans" was soon a principal part of the Feder 
alist program. In September, 1802, Duncan Cam 
eron, Federalist of Hillsboro, wrote John Moore, 
Revolutionary Tory of Lincoln county, a long let 
ter outlining the scheme of rehabilitating the party 
in the State. He says in the beginning, "The politi 
cal opinions of a great portion of our citizens 1 seem 
to me to grow out of hatred and party principles. 
They are in the habit of reading Duane s and 
Gales papers," and Gales was, like Duane, sending 
out papers free, or nearly so, to all parts of the 
State. "It was proposed at this place some weeks 
ago that a subscription should be set on foot in each 
district to raise money sufficient to furnish about 
ten newspapers for each county, which should be 
sent to men of democratic principles of a moderate 
kind by the printer. Mr. Boylan has said that he 
will furnish 600 papers weekly at $1.25 each for a 
year (the subscription rate was then $3.00 a year), 
which is as low as the price of labor and paper would 
enable him to print them. This scheme it was fur 
ther agreed shall be communicated to the following 
persons : William Boylan for Newbern, W. B. 
, Grove for Fayetteville, Col. Ashe for Wilmington, 

* The Nathaniel Macon MSS. 



THE REVOLUTION OF l8oO. 179 

John Moore for Morgan, Archibald Henderson for 
Salisbury, D. Cameron for Hillsboro, W. R. Davie 
for Halifax, who was also to select some person for 
Edenton. Col. Ashe has already procured sub 
scriptions for the Wilmington district. From what 
I have already understood to be your political char 
acter with perfect confidence in your zealous coope 
ration with us in executing a plan which has for its 
end the noble objects of suppressing falsehood and 
disseminating truth, of subverting the wild and vis 
ionary projects and opinions of Democracy and 
advocatng in their place sound, substantial, practical 
principles of Federalism." In Hillsboro seventy- 
five dollars was at once subscribed and Cameron was 
sure that there would be. no difficulty in finding men 
in every town and county to come forward with sub 
scriptions. Five dollars each was the assessment. 
This plan was a result of a conference of leading 
Federalists held at Hillsboro, but it had been first 
suggested and outlined in Raleigh during the June 
session of the United States Circuit Court, the same 
that Macon had attended in order to find out what 
was the public opinion of Jefferson and the Repub 
lican administration. Boylan, the editor of the Ral 
eigh Minerva, was its originator. But the idea and 
practice, too, had been started already in North Car 
olina by Joseph Gales. The Raleigh Register had 
come to be feared and the maneuvers of its editor 
were now to be imitated by the opposing party. 

Macon knew in a vague way that something was 
being proposed; rumors of it reached him at Ral 
eigh. But he seems not to have been disturbed. 
He wrote at this very time (September 15, 1802) to 
one of the Federalists John Steele of Salisbury 
asking him to bring his whole family to Buck 
Spring and remain a week. Macon sustained a 



180 NATHANIEL MACON. 

peculiar relation to the leading Federalists during 
all these years. He wrote to them, appeared to be 
on the friendliest terms with them and never mani 
fested any >arty animosity. Steele was, however, 
a mild Federalist and one whom both Jefferson and 
Macon were anxious to win for their party. After 
his defeat for Congress in 1^95, he had been ap 
pointed by Washington as Comptroller of the 
Treasury, which office he held under Adams and 
Jefferson until late in the fall of 1802. Steele s 
feeling a!t this time may be best illustrated by a 
quotation from a note on one of Macon s letters 
dated September 15, 1802: "It is my ambition to be 
useful, but I am aware that a man can not be really 
so without possessing a share of political power 
and patronage which I have no reason to expect"- 
a remark sad enough for a politician of that time, 
yet one which showed its author to have under 
stood well the trend of political thought in North 
Carolina in 1802. Steele was wealthy, had dis 
tinguished himself in war and, feeling as he did 
about the outlook of his party, he informed the Presi 
dent that he should resign his position and retire to 
private life on his farm. Macon heard of the pro 
posed step and wrote Steele, October 10, urging 
him, though not successfully, to remain at his post. 
In this letter Macon s confidence in and friendship 
for Steele are clearly shown different now from 
what he was when Steele desired Macon s endorse 
ment as a candidate for Congress in 1794. Jeffer 
son also insisted on Steele s remaining in office at 
Washington, but to no avail. He entered the North 
Carolina Assembly and was made commissioner for 
the settling of the long-disputed boundary line 
between North and South Carolina, but never again 
figured in national affairs. 



THE REVOLUTION OF l8oO. 1ST 

General Davie, the other object of Jefferson s 
friendly offices, was not detached from the Federal 
ist party and, contrary to Macon s hopes for his 
finally yielding his support or remaining in quiet 
retirement, he joined the active opponents of the 
President, even while holding a commission under 
the Administration, and "stood for Congress" in the 
summer of 1803 against Willis Alston, a staunch 
Democrat of Halifax. Concerning the partisanship 
of that campaign Macon wrote: "I am informed 
that Jaycocks has ceased being a candidate, so that 
Alston and Davie seem to be alone. I have also been 
informed that great exertions have been made, and 
will be continued till the election, which is next 
Thursday and Friday. In other districts conditions 
remain as in my last." 1 It was a notorious con 
test, and it is still talked about in Halifax ; but 
Davie was defeated. Chagrined at his defeat, and 
being separated from the powerful Jones family by 
the death of his wife, he retired not only from 
politics, but from the State, never to return again. 
He spent the remaining years of his life at Tivoli 
on the Catawba river in South Carolina, near the 
scenes of his valiant fighting during the Revolution. 

The newspaper plans of Duncan Cameron and 
others ; the "hue and cry" as Macon says, raised in 
defense of the Constitution, which was so endan 
gered; the retirement from tacit support of Jeffer 
son of Gen. John Steele, and the violent campaign 
in favor of so prominent a man as General Davie, all 
came to naught in 1803. Every man in Congress 
from North Carolina who voted against the repeal 
of the Judiciary act in 1802 was defeated in the 
election of 1803. Henderson, Stanly, Hill, and 
even Grove of Fayetteville, were all superceded. 

1 Macon to Nicholson, August 6, 1803. 



182 NATHANIEL MACON. 

/ 

As Macon said so many times on the floor of the 
House and elsewhere, the people were behind the 
Republicans. Jefferson was endorsed almost unani 
mously and Macon with him. From this time until 
his voluntary retirement in 1828, Macon was easily 
the foremost figure in North Carolina politics. He 
wrote Jefferson nearly a month after the August 
elections concerning the political situation in his 
State as follows i 1 "It is with real pleasure, that I 
inform you, that the Republican cause is daily gain 
ing ground with us. ,- Not only the late elections, but 
the candid acknowledgment of many that they have 
been deceived, fully confirm the fact. And this 
gaining is clearly the effect of observation on the 
difference between the present and past times by the 
people, and it is worthy of notice that the district 
(Fayetteville) which sends only Federalists from the 
State to Congress, gave a majority of votes to 
Republican candidates, and I must add what is also 
worthy of notice, that during the present adminis 
tration, not a single person has been dismissed from 
office in this State, although with one exception I 
believe they were all Federal, though not I hope of 
the same sort which abound in some other places." 
Meanwhile Jefferson had been pursuing steadily 
his policy of annexing Louisiana, a country toward 
which he had been looking with jealous eyes ever 
since 1790. The story of Monroe s second mission 
to Paris and Napoleon s final policy in the Louis 
iana purchase has been too often told to require any 
very extended review here. This positive policy of 
the President was first intimated in the House of 
Representatives by Randolph s call for information 
from the Executive on December 17, 1802. All the 
information at the disposal of the Administration 
was gladly furnished. The Federalists at once 

i Macon to Jefferson, September 3, 1803. 



THE REVOLUTION OF 1800. 183 

returned to their old cry of war against France, and 
Hamilton declared that a sensible President would 
recommend at once the annexation of all the land 
east of the Mississippi without negotiation either 
with France or Spain. The opposition failed to 
force a rupture while the Republicans authorized 
the Administration to call out good militia and equip 
fifteen vessels of war. Jefferson, however, turned 
to his old friend Monroe, the popular Governor of 
Virginia, a favorite of the Kentuckians, and insisted 
on his undertaking the negotiation of the purchase of 
the disputed territory. Monroe accepted the mis 
sion, and Louisiana was secured for the compara 
tively inconsiderable sum of fifteen million dollars. 
But the end had not come Congress had not been 
consulted, and it would rest with it whether or not 
the action of the Executive would be sustained. 

While Monroe was working out his mission in 
Paris, with the assistance of Livingston, the regular 
representative rather while he was assisting Liv 
ingston at the court of the First Consul, a most 
interesting and important constitutional question 
was agitating the minds of Congress and of thought 
ful men everywhere. The Marbury vs. Madison 
decision of Chief Justice Marshall was the cause, 
and it was the beginning of a new tendency of the 
Supreme Court. Marbury was one of Adams "mid 
night" appointees ; and Madison refused to give 
him the commission which the appointment required. 
Marbury was to have been a Justice of the Peace 
for the District of Columbia. He instituted suit 
against Madison as Secretary of State and obtained 
Marshall s judgment that "to withhold his commis 
sion is an act deemed by the court not warranted by 
law, but violative of a legal vested right." 1 The ses- 

"" T Foundation stone for the decision of Judge Ruffin, so famous in 
North Carolina, in the case of Hoke vs. Henderson. 



184 NATHANIEL MACON. 

sionsof the Supreme Court had been suspended some 
time by act of Congress. This decision was a retort 
which did not please the majority. It was the 
first manifestation of that spirit of Marshall which 
was soon to dominate the Supreme Court and finally 
to become the directing element in the whole Ameri 
can Judiciary. Men now for the first time began 
seriously to inquire whether the Constitution gave 
to the Supreme Court the authority to declare void 
the acts of Congress, not because no provision was 
made for such rulings on the part of the Court, but 
because men had not accustomed themselves to sub 
mitting to an all-powerful Court. The Federalists 
rejoiced that such a man as Marshall had been 
placed on the Supreme Bench. The Republicans 
prepared to silence them by impeaching John Pick 
ering for maladministration of his office. Pickering 
was Federalist Judge of the United States District 
Court of New Hampshire. Articles of impeachment 
were brought before the Senate on the last day of 
the session, March 3, 1803 beginning of a bad 
business for the party in power. 

During the spring and summer of 1803, Macon 
corresponded with his friends on the subject of the 
jurisdiction of the United States judges, their duties 
and their relations to the other branches of the 
National government. Steele wrote Macon denying 
the right of Marshall to issue the mandamus in 
favor of Marbury, and attacking the "fashionable 
doctrine that the courts have power to pronounce 
acts of Congress unconstitutional and void." He 
then insinuates that Henry Lee, of Virginia, was 
the author of Marshall s decision. "By the theory 
of our Government, the Legislative, the Executive 
and Judicial departments are in a certain degree and 
for certain purposes distinct. The officers who com- 



THE REVOLUTION OF l8oO. 185 

pose the President s council are his constitutional 
advisers, and with him form what is denominated 
the Executive. Should the Secretary of State, a 
constituent part of this great department, do wrong 
in his official capacity to an individual or the public, 
with or without the sanction of the President, the 
intimate relation which the Constitution supposes 
to exist between him and the President may be dis 
solved by removal or impeachment, after which he 
is amenable to the judicial authority in the form of 
an indictment, and perhaps by civil process. Until 
that connection be dissolved, the official acts of a 
Secretary of State are to be regarded as the acts of 
the President. With respect to them he stands on 
the Executive ground not examinable by the Judi 
ciary." And further, "I doubt the right of the Su 
preme Court to step on Executive ground in the 
case of a patent on a pension; (if so) you will sub 
ject at once the country to Judicial discipline and 
all the vast concerns of the treasury to the revision 
of a department which, in theory, is the third, but in 
practice aims at becoming the first power of the 
State." In this way a staunch Federalist argues 
that the Supreme Court had no right to give a 
decision in the Marbury vs. Madison case. After 
citing precedents in English judicial practice, which 
Macon did not relish, to be sure, and again in the 
Pennsylvania controversy between Governor Mc- 
Kean and the Adjutant-General, he comes to the 
conclusion that the Supreme Court was quietly 
usurping powers not given it. He does not agree 
that it may annul a law of Congress constitutionally, 
but asserts that Congress is supreme and is not to 
be dominated by the Court. Macon, as we have 
seen, repeatedly referred to the Court as supreme, 
and in the case of the Sedition laws, he called upon 



186 NATHANIEL MACON. 

the Judges to declare the act of Congress unconstitu 
tional. It was not thus so much the Court itself to 
which men were objecting, but its evidently partisan 
attitude towards the Administration. In the case of 
Marbury vs. Madison, Marshall finally decided that 
the ruling of the Court could not apply, and that the 
mandamus which he himself had granted could not 
be enforced. Macon declared this behaviour re 
minded him of a certain member of Congress, who 
always spoke on one side of a question and voted on 
the other. Macon was willing to grant the suprem 
acy of the Court over Congress, but he said the 
Judges would always decide a constitutional ques 
tion at their peril, because of their accountability to 
Congress. Marshall s early constructive rulings 
were not approved by Macon ; they were to him par 
tisan, and viewed in the light of unbiased history, 
he was correct. Their aim was to carry into effect 
political opinions held and maintained by a small 
minority of the people. John Marshall had not 
then been canonized, and so his decisions were not 
received as dicta of heaven-born justice. 

The position of the Court encouraged the Repub 
licans in their determination to administer a whole 
some chastisement. The Administration, in accord 
ance with public sentiment, recommended the im 
peachment of Judge Chase, the most violently parti 
san of the Justices of the Supreme Court. Chase 
deserved impeachment, it was thought, especially on 
the grounds of his behaviour on the Bench in Rich 
mond in the Callender trial in 1800. And adding 
to the exasperation of the Republicans, Chase, in a 
charge to a grand jury, declared: "The indepen 
dence of the National judiciary is already shaken 
to its foundations, and the virtue of the people 
alone can restore it. * * * Our republican Con- 



THE; REVOLUTION OF 1800. 187 

stitution will sink into a mobocracy, * * * the 
worst of all possible government." 1 This was "pour 
ing oil into the flames" indeed. The leaders of the 
House, on Jefferson s advice, determined long before 
Congress met on impeaching Chase at the next ses 
sion. Those leaders were Macon, Randolph and 
Jos. H. Nicholson, of Maryland. But Macon wrote ; 
to Nicholson, August 6, 1803: "I have thought a 
little on Judge Chase s charge, and submit for your 
consideration the following queries : 

"i. Ought a Judge to be impeached for a charge 
to a grand jury because it contains matters of which 
the grand jury have not cognizance? 

"2. Ought a Judge to be impeached for a charge 
to a grand jury, not legal but political? 

"3. Ought a Judge to be impeached for deliver 
ing in his charge to the grand jury, political opin 
ions which every man may fully enjoy arid freely 
express ? 

"4. Ought a Judge to be impeached for delivering 
his political opinions in a charge to the grand jury, 
and which any member of Congress might deliver 
to the House of which he is a member ? 

"5. Ought a Judge to be impeached because he 
avows monarchical opinions in his charge to a 
grand jury? 

"Is error of opinion to be dreaded when inquiry 
is free? Is the liberty of the press of any real value 
when the political charges of a Judge are dreaded? 
What effect have they (judicio-political charges) in 
the United States? If a Judge ought to be im 
peached for avowing monarchical principles to the 
grand jury in his charge, what ought to be done 
with those who appoint them, who actually sup 
ported them in the field. Change the scene, and 

1 Hart : Formation of the Union, 180. 



188 NATHANIEL MACON. 

suppose Chase had stretched as far on the other 
side, and had praised where no praise was deserving, 
would it be proper to impeach, because by such con- 

- duct he might lull the people to sleep while their 
interest was destroyed? I have said this much to 

. hear your opinions on some of the points, nor can 
I quite withhold expressing to you my firm convic 
tion that you, if any attempt be made to impeach, 
ought not to be the leader." Nicholson desired the 
appointment on the bench in case Chase was con 
victed and removed, which explains Macon s last 
sentence. The plan was preparing and the leaders 
already thinking about the division of the spoils. 
From the tenor of Macon s letter, he opposed the 
r impeachment of Chase, and this course would have 
been a much wiser policy for his party. Randolph, 
it appears, was bent on impeachment, and favored 
Nicholson s being named Chase s successor. But ere 
this unfortunate scheme comes before Congress, let 
us view the better and nobler work of the party in 
power. 

Macon s letter of August 6, shows his ignorance 
of the favorable turn of the negotiations at Paris on 
June 24, but in September he informs Jefferson that 
"the acquisition of Louisiana has given general sat 
isfaction, though the terms are not correctly known. 
But if it is within the compass of the present rev 
enue, the purchase, when the terms are known, will 
be more admired than even now." And then add 
ing what must have given his correspondent genuine 
satisfaction, and which indicates Macon s own 
statesman-like vision, "if the Floridas can be ob 
tained on tolerable terms, we [shall] have nothing 
to make us uneasy, unless it be the party madness of 
some of our dissatisfied citizens." This, then, is 
the policy of him who had opposed every warlike 



THE REVOLUTION OF l8oO. 189 

measure the Federalists had formerly followed and 
would have carried out in order to gain the Floridas. 
He would obtain all that they coveted; and, with 
his beau ideal in the President s chair, he actually 
hoped and expected to acquire all the country needed 
for its own expansion and safety. Randolph, Nich 
olson, Giles and Macon all united in supporting the 
President s plans, even when these plans were only 
imperfectly known to them. And how gladly did 
Macon inform Jefferson that the people of North 
Carolina were rallying to him almost unanimously ! 
The constitutionality of the purchase was not so 
much as mentioned. 

Congress was called together on the I7th of Octo 
ber, to consider the Louisiana purchase; it was a 
glad meeting. The whole country was rejoicing at 
its good fortune, and nine men in every ten found in 
Thomas Jefferson the personification of his own 
political ideals. Nothing to which he turned his 
attention failed to realize; and now the President 
submits his action, touching the long-disputed terri 
tory, to the legislature, saying he had transcended 
his constitutional bounds, but that he had clone it 
in the interest of the people who made the Constitu 
tion, he had done it as their agent ; they could exam 
ine for themselves and repudiate if they wished, but 
his recommendation, based on long political experi 
ence, was that they should accept his action, pay the 
expense and amend the Constitution to cover the 
case. The Senate ratified the treaty within two 
days by a vote of 24 to 7; the House passed a bill 
providing for the extra appropriations on Novem 
ber 10, by a majority of 89 to 23. There was no 
difficulty now in carrying government measures. If 
ever a President had reason for self-gratulation, it 
was Jefferson in the fall and winter of 1803 and 



190 NATHANIEL MACON. 

1804. All the unbending opposition of the Seventh 
Congress was gone. In Massachusetts and Connec- 
ticutt a change was slowly working, and on the 
Louisiana purchase, John Quincy Adams, son of 
his father in every fibre, yielding to reason, gave 
the Administration his vote, though not his influence 
otherwise. Virginia was so well pleased with her 
distinguished son that she sent both his sons-in-law 
to Congress, and another relative of his was undis 
puted leader on the floor of the House. 1 

Jefferson continued his retrenchment and reform, 
first in removing from the statute books an unpopu 
lar and expensive Bankrupt law, then in still further 
reducing the patronage of his own office. Jefferson 
was not friendly to office-seekers, and he was espe 
cially unfriendly to any of his relatives who ventured 
to apply. A remark he was accustomed to make 
during these years was, that 1io connection of his, 
no matter how deserving, need expect appointment 
under his administration, for the people could never 
be brought to see the merit, but only the favoritism 
of the case, and thus the very design of the appoint 
ment would be defeated. If any of his relatives 
desired to enter the public service, it must be, said he, 
by means of election on the part of the people. How 
great a pity some less important men do not under 
stand the subject thus ! 

Congress chose again, on the first day of its assem 
bling, Nathaniel Macon as its Speaker ; and Macon 
immediately appointed his friend Randolph chair 
man of the Ways and Means committee. Randolph 
was truly the spokesman of the Administration. 
The only important measure, after the passing of 
the Louisiana Purchase bill, in which Macon figured 
conspicuously, was the amendment to the Constitu- 
ion. The long dead-lock on the election of the 

i Schouler, vol. I,, p. 59-60 ; Annals of Congress, 7th Cong., passim. 



THE REVOLUTION OF l8oO. 191 

President in 1801, caused solely by the practice of 
taking the candidates in order of the number of 
votes cast, was a lesson sufficiently impressive to 
demand a remedy before the recurrence of a sec 
ond similar crisis. When the reform measure 
the present electoral plan came before the House, 
strong opposition, more for opposition s sake than 
for any other reason, was developed. When the 
vote was taken, Macon insisted on voting, and 
it was his vote which decided the matter, a two- 
thirds failing without it. This occasioned some 
criticism, but he was strong enough to ignore it. It 
had not, and has not since, been the custom of the 
Speaker to vote, except in case of a tie. So when 
we cast our votes for President and Vice-President, 
separate and distinct, we may recall that an unpre 
cedented act of Nathaniel Macon gave us the con 
stitutional amendment which prescribes such a 
course. 

Toward the end of the session the slavery question 
was brought again, after some years of silence on 
the subject, to the attention of Congress in the 
form of a resolution placing a tax of ten dollars a 
head on each slave imported into the United States. 1 
Obedient to the anti-slavery movement of the time, 
all the States had passed laws against the further 
importation of slaves. But South Carolina now 
removed all restriction on the importation of slaves, 
a step which practically annulled the slavery laws of 
all other States, since any man could carry his slave 
any where, either to sell or to use himself. 2 Lown- 
des, a younger member from South Carolina, made a 
long speech in defence of the action of his State 
Legislature, on the ground that the non-importation 
laws could not be enforced, and that Congress itself 

1 Annals of Congress, 8th Cong., I., 991. 

2 Schouler, II., 62. 



192 NATHANIEL MACON. 

had been chiefly responsible for that state of affairs. 
Macon opposed the resolution because it "looks like 
an attempt in the General Government to correct a 
State for the undisputed exercise of its constitutional 
powers. It appears to me to be something like put 
ting a State to the ban of the empire. It will oper 
ate as a censure thrown on the State. To this I can 
never consent." His additional argument was .that 
a tax would legalize the trade, to which he was also 
very much opposed. 1 The principal cause of Ma- 
con s opposition was that a sovereign State would 
be interfered with. Here again he foreshadows his 
later political course. The resolution was passed, 
but when Randolph, as chairman of the Ways and 
Means committee presented a bill in conformity to 
the resolution, it was postponed indefinitely. 2 

Before the adjournment in the spring of 1804, a 
caucus of the Republican members of Congress was 
held for the purpose of deciding on the candidates 
for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency. Jefferson 
had often said that the President should serve only 
one term, but the great desire of his party was so 
strong in favor of his nomination for a second term 
that he yielded and became a third time an open can 
didate for the highest office in the land. No doubt 
but his personal objections were easily waived. 
Burr did not possess the confidence of his party, and 
Jefferson himself did not favor his re-nomination. 
Only the evening before the caucus was to meet, the 
Vice-President had called on Jefferson with a view 
to winning his support. It was refused, and George 
Clinton, an extreme State s Rights man from New 
York, received his support, and was nominated. 
There was scarce a doubt that the nominee of the 
Republican caucus would be elected. Macon at- 

1 Annals of Congress, 8th Cong., I., 998. 

2 Annals of Congress, 8th Cong., I., 1020-1036. 



THE; REVOLUTION OF 1800. 193 

tended this caucus, 1 it seems, and was so much dis 
pleased with its proceedings that he resolved never to 
attend another. He was in no doubt, however, 
about supporting its candidates, and he was all inter 
est during the summer elections in North Carolina. 
September 2, he wrote to Jefferson : "Our elections 
are over, and at the next Congress North Carolina 
will be unanimous on the Republican side." There 
was actually only one Federalist candidate in the 
field Purviance, from Fayetteville. "American pol 
itics are scarcely ever mentioned, nearly all seem to 
be satisfied." And in reference to the National 
election which was soon to follow, he said in a letter 
to Nicholson, September 7, 1804 : "The Federalists 
in this part of the State have not yet mentioned a 
name for elector, nor is it probable they will, unless 
they do it a few days before the election." No other 
reference to the election was made in any of his let 
ters which have been preserved. 

Congress was called together earlier than usual, 
in the autumn of 1804, the President anticipating 
trouble in steering the ship of state in safety between 
Great Britain on the one hand and warlike France 
on the other. Macon was perplexed what to do, 
and said so in a letter to Nicholson before the open 
ing of Congress. 2 Jefferson was not fond of decid 
ing difficult foreign questions. As he had recom 
mended often enough before, Congress should decide 
these matters. It was the irony of fate that the 
troubles which wrecked Adams administration were 
now to wreck Jefferson s, and to be in part the cause 
of the almost universal criticism and abuse which 
hounded him back to Monticello at the end of his 
term, sick and tired of the world and its turbulent 

1 Macon to Bartleit Yancey, Dec. 12, 1823. 

2 Nathaniel Macon to Jos. H. Nicholson, September 7, 1804. 

3 



194 NATHANIEL MACON. 

politics. But other elements contributed to his mis 
fortunes during his second term, and other subjects 
arose which well-nigh wrecked his party. These 
will be given in the following chapter. 

The last act of the Republicans, united and mili 
tant, was the attempt to impeach Judge Samuel 
Chase, of the Supreme Court. Chase had been a 
mill-stone about the neck of the Federalist party; 
now he becomes a stumbling block in the path of the 
Republicans, more particularly in that of John Ran 
dolph. 

From the beginning of our government, impeach 
ments have been very difficult to accomplish. The 
ablest lawyers in North Carolina, supported by all 
the weight of wealth and rank in the State, had been 
enlisted in the impeachment of Judges Ashe, Wil 
liams, and Spencer, of the Superior Court, in 1786. 
William Hooper and Alexander Maclaine exerted 
themselves to the utmost to have the Judges found 
guilty of maladministration and dismissed, but to 
no effect. The notorious case of Blount, of the 
United States Senate, was of such a nature as to 
make it exceptionable. There were few precedents, 
and the early legislatures were not fond of tran 
scending precedent. The Republicans had success 
fully impeached Judge Pickering, and since that 
had been so well carried out, and their exasperation 
at the defiant attitude of the Federal Courts was in 
no way appeased, it was finally resolved to call the 
Judges of the Supreme Court to account. 

On the second day of the session, John Randolph 
reminded the Speaker of the House of the Chase 
impeachment proposition, and he was made chair 
man of a special committee to review the work of 
the former impeachment committee and report to the 
House. 1 In accordance with his instructions, Ran- 

i See page 188. 



THE REVOLUTION OF l8oO. 195 

dolph reported articles of impeachment to the Rep 
resentatives on November 20, 1804. This report 
was taken up December 3, and, after a debate of 
three days, Randolph, Nicholson and Rodney, of 
Delaware, were appointed to prosecute Chase "for 
high crimes and misdemeanors before the Senate." 1 
On February 4, the trial was opened in the Senate. 
Judge Chase had retained Henry Lee, of Virginia, 
former Attorney-General of the United States, 
Luther Martin of Baltimore, the "Federal Bull 
dog," as Jefferson termed him, and the distinguished 
Federalist leader, Harper, of South Carolina, as 
counsel. Nicholson and Rodney were, perhaps, able 
to cope with Chase s counsel, but Randolph was not, 
and especially not in such an arena as the United 
States Senate. He was entirely unfitted for the 
prosecution, and he blundered even worse than was 
to have been expected, claimed extension of time to 
get his final address ready, and when ready it was 
more harmful to his own than to Chase s party. 
After a month of harangue and dispute in a cause 
which would have been sustained if ably and prop 
erly presented, the impeachment failed and the Ad 
ministration was humiliated as no other had ever 
been. 2 Why so shrewd a man as Jefferson allowed 
such blundering it is difficult to say. He had been 
misled, perhaps, by Randolph s success in the House, 
or he was too sure the strength of the case was suffi 
cient per se to compel a verdict of impeachment. It 
was all a sad business : Chase remained on the bench, 
Randolph returned to the Roanoke, not quite so 
" proud as forty kings," his political influence had 
passed its zenith; Nicholson never sat on the Su 
preme Court bench ; and Jefferson was compelled to 
accommodate himself to the decisions of Judge 

i Annals of Congress, 8th Cong., 2d Sess., 726-763. 
3 Schouler, II., 86-88. 



196 NATHANIEL MACON. 

Marshall and his powerful associates. Macon, 
the wisest of the Republican leaders, had opposed 
impeachment all along; he returned home feeling 
keenly enough the humiliation of his party, regret 
ting, as well he might, that his own advice had not 
been taken. 

The first four years of Republican administration 
was, on the whole, satisfactory to Macon. He had seen 
government stripped of all its formality; the levees, 
which had called forth from him an occasional sar 
casm, were abolished, and two great pell-mell recep 
tions took their places. These were on New Year s 
day and the Fourth of July. The President, though 
he owned "a coach and four," we are told, rode 
horseback like a country congressman about the little 
capital, or even to and from Monticello. Members 
of Congress called at the White House at will, and 
were received without ceremony or formality. Ma 
con 1 tells with apparent satisfaction in one of his 
letters that The British Minister has kicked up a 
little dust about his and his wife s rank, such as 
going first out of the sitting- into the dining-room ! 
having number one given to his wife at the dancing 
assembly ; and this prank of the Briton has acted as 
a spur to the Spaniard, and the Marquis de Hrujo 
has also taken it into his head to show a trick or 
two about this new-fangled doctrine of rank, where 
neither the people nor their new form of govern 
ment acknowledges any. However, I suspect both 
their claims, although not for money, will meet the 
same fate, which claims so often meet from the 
Committee on Claims, that is, leave to withdraw." 
It was with a supreme contempt that Macon viewed 
the small practices of the diplomatic corps, whose 
members were then, as they have continued till this 

i Macon to John Steele, February 12, 1804. 



THE REVOLUTION OF l8oO. 197 

day, trying to give tone to Washington society, 
despite the plain, practical President. 

Jefferson s reputed atheism proved itself simply a 
figment in the minds of New England clergymen, and 
when he took charge of the government neither were 
the churches demolished nor all the Bibles burned. 
Things went on as before, with the exception that 
religious liberty received a new impetus. The 
President attended church, as other good Americans 
did then and do now, and encouraged the building 
of new ones, studied the Bible closely, and practised 
its teachings in numerous ways ; all of which pleased 
Macon since he himself was a Christian, "of the 
Baptist persuasion," and a life-long student of the 
Scriptures. 

The government expense, as has been noted, had 
fallen off four millions a year, and the National debt 
was slowly disappearing. All the affairs of State 
had been simplified, all its workings were being 
brought as nearly as possible within the comprehen 
sion of the plainest farmer. The foreign establish 
ments, though not appreciably changed, had become 
far less expensive. The civil service, too, had un 
dergone a "chaste reformation." No "old Tories * 
were given employment under the * Whig regime, 
and the United States Courts were stopped from 
encroaching on those of the States. Comfortable 
thoughts, all these, to Macon and his constituents. 

But there were other thoughts in Macon s mind 
that spring as he turned his steps southward; he 
was beginning, like Randolph, to drift away from 
the Administration. The day of the "Old Repub 
licans," as he and Jefferson termed them twenty 
years later, was passing its zenith ; its sun was tak 
ing its downward course. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

MACON AND THE "QUIDS," 1805-1808. 

The first intimation of Macon s dissatisfaction 
with the Administration appears in a letter to Mon 
roe, November 15, I8O3. 1 His language is unusu 
ally guarded, yet it shows clearly enough that he 
was displeased with the State department, that is, 
with its head, Madison, Jefferson s most intimate 
friend. Beginning with the "purchasing" policy of 
Jefferson, he said, "the whole transaction is gener 
ally well received and popular; though it is due to 
truth to say that some of your friends would rather 
the two millions of dollars appropriated at the last 
session of Congress should have been otherwise ap 
plied; it is feared that the application has some 
thing local in it, though not towards Virginia. You 
will pardon my saying this much, and be assured 
that it has proceeded from a sincere desire to com 
municate that which I think you ought to know. 
More would have been said, but it is believed some 
of your many friends must have written to you on 
the subject." Just what Macon wished to tell 
Monroe would be difficult to determine positively; 
but he was an intimate friend of Randolph s, and 
Randolph had already conceived a jealousy for Mad 
ison, and was soon attempting to detach Monroe 
from the Administration at least so far as its for 
eign policy was concerned. Monroe had won a 
great deal of popularity in the West before he went 
to Paris to assist in the Louisiana Purchase ; the .suc 
cessful issue of that undertaking made him a rival 
of Madison s for the Presidency. That Macon and 
Randolph were advocating the preference of Monroe 
over Madison as early as November, 1803, is con- 

* Monroe Papers, State Department. 



MACON AND THE "QUIDS." 199 

trary to the accepted opinion, yet this letter points 
clearly to that conclusion. How Macon came to 
dislike Madison does not appear, except that he, on 
Randolph s advices, began to believe Madison im 
properly connected with the famous Yazoo frauds in 
Georgia. 

Other tendencies toward alienation from the Ad 
ministration have already appeared in his tardy 
acquiescence in the impeachment movements of 
1803-1805. He was not a violent opponent of the 
Supreme Court, and had he been he would have pre 
ferred to let it cut off its own head by partisan 
decisions rather than to have undertaken this diffi 
cult task as a part of his party program. Macon 
was a decided advocate of the corrective power of 
public opinion, and preferred always to let it have 
its free course, and at that particular time he had 
not thought public sentiment demanded the impeach 
ment of Chase. 

Some reference has been made to the Yazoo land 
frauds. During the last session it had been shown 
that speculators had corruptly procured from the 
Georgia Legislature, in 1795, grants for large areas 
of Western lands. The next Legislature annulled 
the grants, and now the speculators were claiming 
relief from Congress. A commission of the Cabi 
net, composed of Madison, Gallatin and Lincoln, 
proposed to compromise the difficulty by allowing 
five million acres of land to the petitioners. To 
Macon and Randolph this was proposing a compro 
mise with the devil, more especially since the chief 
claimants were New Englanders. Randolph had 
made violent speeches against the proposed compro 
mise, and Macon agreed with him, which was, of 
course, the same thing as charging the Administra 
tion with winking at a fraud. 1 And again, towards 

i Schouler, II., 83. 



200 . NATHANIEL MACON. 

the end of the session, when the claim was presented 
to the House asking fourteen thousand dollars for 
repairs on the furniture of the President s house 
hold, 1 Macon s sense of consistency and notions of 
economy were violated. It was the same claim 
Adams friends had made, and which he himself had 
strenuously opposed as extravagant and useless. 
Should his own favorite leader and candidate, now 
that he was in power, practice the same wasteful 
policy? These were the causes of Macon s partial 
disaffection to his party, and the beginning, even at 
the close of the Eighth Congress, of the storms of 
the Ninth. 

As a result of the disaffection of Macon and 
Randolph, there was sufficient reason for the friends 
of Macon to fear he would not be re-elected Speaker 
at the opening of the Ninth Congress. Not a word 
on the subject seems ever to have been uttered by 
Macon. But Randolph was anxious about his 
friend s election, and more than a month before 
Congress was to meet he wrote Nicholson : 2 "I am 
now seriously apprehensive for his election; and 
more on his account than from public considerations, 
although there is not a man in the House, himself 
and one other excepted, who is in any respect quali 
fied for the office. I can not deny that the insult 
offered to the man would move me more than the 
injury done the public by his rejection. Indeed, I 
am not sure that such a step, although productive of 
temporary inconvenience, would not be followed 
by permanent good effects. It would open the eyes 
of many well-meaning persons, who, in avoiding 
the scylla of innovation, have plunged into the 
charybdis of federalism. * * Do not fail to 

be in Washington time enough to counteract the 

* Annals of Congress, 8th Cong. 2d Ses?., 1211 
2 Life of John Randolph, by Henry Adams, 15?. 



MACON AND THE) "QUIDS." 201 

plot against the Speaker, and pray apprise such of 
his friends as are within your reach of its existence." 
That there was a plan on foot to defeat Macon can 
hardly be doubted, and because of the events of the 
last session of Congress, not because of unfitness. 
Randolph said he was the only man, with one ex 
ception, fitted for the Speaker s chair. From the 
letter just quoted it may be inferred that the Admin 
istration was trying to secure Macon s defeat. But 
this was not true. Jefferson could, indeed, have 
defeated Macon by a single word ; but that word was 
not given. In fact, the President was trying to con 
ciliate all but Randolph, and so if he had any share 
in the election of the Speaker at all, it was in the 
interest of Macon. Still it was by a bare majority, 
after three ballots, that Macon was elected. He 
was thought to be too friendly to Randolph, and 
Randolph had lost his prestige during the last ses 
sion of Congress so completely that the ever-in 
creasing Northern wing of the party demanded an 
other leader. It was not the Speaker so much to 
whom objection was made, as the former chairman 
of the committee on Ways and Means. But both 
these men had come to stand for a policy which was 
much to the disliking of the Eastern Republicans. 
It was the policy of Southern supremacy and States 
Rights, begun with the Louisiana Purchase, and 
which was to end a half a century later at the begin 
ning of the Civil War. Macon, as we know, ad 
vised Jefferson during the summer of 1802 to secure 
Florida at any reasonable cost, and assured him of 
the hearty support of the South in such event. Ran 
dolph stood for the same along with his State-su 
premacy creed. These men, with their aristocratic 
manners and their democratic policy, were domina 
ting the Union the chief cause of complaint in 
New England. The narrow margin of party sup- 



202 NATHANIEL MACON. 

port, and the almost general discontent of the Repute 
licans, did not prevent Macon s promptly placing 
Randolph at the head of the Committee on Ways 
and Means. 1 

Macon s appointment of his friend proved at once 
to be a great blunder. Jefferson asked Congress 
for the sum of two million dollars, with which to 
purchase Florida; but because this request was not 
made quite to the liking of Randolph, the latter 
refused to bring in a favorable bill. The President 
was annoyed, but soon turned to Varnum, Macon s 
competitor for the Speakership, and asked him and 
Bidwell, a very influential member from Massachu 
setts, .to bring a proper resolution before the House. 
The House at once passed the resolution and granted 
the appropriation accordingly the breach was 
there ; the Speaker and the committee on Ways and 
Means were out of accord with the President, and 
the latter still had control of the House. This was 
the beginning of a stormy session, and Macon, Ran 
dolph and Nicholson became the first members of 
the little group of independents called "the Quids." 

Before Congress met, we find Macon lamenting 
the action of Great Britain in returning again to her 
former policy of domineering the trade of the pow 
ers which refused to take part in the fierce war then 
waging between England and the French Empire. 
He was at a loss what to do or recommend, and went 
to Washington with ominious forebodings as to the 
immediate future of the country. When the Presi 
dent recommended, by secret message, that some 
thing be done to bring England to terms, Randolph 
feigned sickness, and ran off to Baltimore for a 
month, thus baffling the Executive in its most impor 
tant measure. No report, no recommendation of 

i Annals of Congress, gth Cong., ist 3ess.,25i; Schouler, II., in. 



MACON AND THE "QUIDS." 203 

any kind, had been made by the end of January, and 
the House agreed to discharge Randolph s committee 
and take up the subject itself in Committee of the 
Whole. Accordingly, Gregg of Pennsylvania offered 
resolutions suspending all commercial relations with 
Great Britain. 1 Macon opposed the resolution in a 
lengthy speech. His opposition was based on the 
ground that the proposed measure would provoke 
war, to which he was opposed under almost all cir 
cumstances. It was to no great advantage that he 
appeared in this address, and he was at some diffi 
culty to prove his course not inconsistent with his 
past conduct. It was Randolph s influence over him 
which seems to have dictated much of his argument. 
His agrarian policy now became narrow, indeed, and 
rather merited the ungainly name it won about this 
time the "mud-turtle policy of Southern Republi 
cans." 2 

Macon, Randolph and Nicholson, alienated from 
the Administration, began actively to scheme against 
Madison s succession for the Presidency, which was 
thought to be Jefferson s wish. Macon s rather 
enigmatical letter to Monroe had perhaps been the 
beginning of overtures to Monroe. Before the close 
of the present session, Randolph wrote Monroe 3 to 
hurry home to defeat the plan "for bringing Madi 
son in," and assured him of the support of "the old 
Republicans." April 22, he wrote again, "A decided 
division has taken place in the Republican party, 
which has been followed by a proscription of the 
anti-ministerialists. Among the number of the pro 
scribed are Mr. Nicholson, who has retired in strong 
disgust (sic?), the Speaker, who will soon follow 
him from like sentiment, and many others of minor 

1 Annals of Congress, gth Cong., ist Sess., 411-414. 

2 Annals of Congress, gth Cong., ist Sess., 686. 

3 March 20, 1806, in Nathaniel Macon Papers. 



\ 



204 NATHANIEL MACON. 

consequence, such as the writer of this letter, cum 
multis aliis." 1 And June 10, William Wirt wrote 
Monroe that "Randolph told the President in com 
pany he was for no more milk-and-water Presi 
dents." 2 June i, Macon wrote Nicholson from 
Buck Spring : "The Madisonians will not lose any 
thing by neglect or indolence; they may overact 
their part, and in their zeal to keep Randolph down, 
may make some lukewarm about Madison. If Ran 
dolph had have stuck to the embargo, he would have 
been up in spite of them. * * * Madison will, 
I think, get the votes of North Carolina for Presi 
dent, and a part of them merely because there is 
not a serious opposition to him." 3 

What does all this mean but, what the Annals of 
Congress point to, that these three men began their 
plan of "President-making" what Macon so much 
deprecated in others a little later as soon as Ran 
dolph s break with the Administration took place, 
and kept it up all through the session. Randolph 
was conscious that his loss of influence was due to 
his failure in impeaching Chase, as is shown in his 
resolutions for amending the Constitution, giving 
Congress the power to remove at will any judge of 
the United States Courts. 4 He was seeking some one 
on whom to put the blame of his own errors, and he 
found the Administration. Randolph had aimed at 
the Presidency ; and Macon had not discouraged 
him. And going a step further, he then declared 
himself a party by himself, set up to oppose all men 
and measures when he believed any incorrect meth 
ods used. He was "the man who spoke out his 
thoughts" on all occasions, and knowing that the 

1 Nathaniel Macon Papers. 

2 Nathaniel Macon Papers. 

3 J. H. Nicholson Papers. 

4 Annals of Congress, gth Cong., ist Sess., 500. 



MACON AND THE "QUIDS." 205 

Constitution had been violated, at least in the letter, 
by both political parties, he constituted himself the 
champion of that instrument, and invited to him ;all ! 
who favored strict construction. Randolph and the 
Constitution, the Constitution and Randolph, were 
his texts on all occasions when Virginia was not. 
Macon s political creed was similar, and so it was not 
difficult for him to desert Jefferson for Randolph, 
to become a stricter champion of the Constitution 
than ever before. 

When the Yazoo dispute came again before the 
House in the form of a Senate bill, Randolph made 
most violent opposition, and charged the Adminis 
tration with smothering all opposition, insinuating 
further that the great Administration paper, the 
National Intelligencer, whose editors were the re 
porters for Congress, had suppressed his speech at 
the suggestion of the Government. 1 "The Man of 
the Mountain (Jefferson)," he continued, "is the 
truest prophet that ever lived. He has only to 
prophesy to insure the perdition of any man." To 
him the whole cause of the division of the Republi 
can party was the Yazoo fraud, and since the Ad 
ministration had "sold the country," he was ready 
to speak his mind against any man, and in the most 
sarcastic and drastic manner. And still sore about 
the impeachment, he said, "At the last session I had 
the honor to carry up and conduct an impeachment 
before the other House. It proved unsuccessful, 
and one of the principal causes was this Yazoo sin. 
I overheard a conversation between a worthy friend 
of mine from Georgia, who has gone home, and a 
great officer of the Government, when they were 
filling the green boxes for the magnates of the land. 
I heard the great officer of the Government tamper 
ing with that man to get his vote. * * * Why, 

i Annals of Congress, gth Cong., ist Sess., 908. 



206 NATHANIEL MACON. 

sir, this is nothing; it is done every day, and every 
hour of the day. It is there at the fireside and not 
on the floor that the affairs of the country are dis 
cussed. * * * What have we seen as late as 
yesterday ? A vote of fifty-six in favor of a resolu 
tion dwindled down by conversation in the lobby to 
twenty-five." These were just such charges, sup 
ported by a certain appearance of evidence as they 
were, which won Macon to the little group of poli 
ticians who followed Randolph and undertook to 
avenge his wrong. Macon s whole life was a pro 
test against caucusing, against underhanded schem 
ing; and now that Jefferson seemed guilty of such 
practices, he was ready to fall away from him, and 
almost ready to exclaim with the Federalists, "O 
tempora, temporal" 

That this split in the ranks of the dominant party 
was due in the first instance to the disagreement 
about the successorship, as Schouler suggests, is 
quite probable ; yet the impeachment disaster seems, 
at least so far as Randolph was concerned, to have 
been its immediate cause. Randolph claimed that 
Jefferson had caused the defeat of his own plan. 
Macon, though he wrote a very compromising letter 
to Monroe in 1804, was not an ardent advocate of 
Monroe s candidacy. In this Randolph did not 
command him. "I have been at a public dinner," 
wrote Macon, June I, 1806 (quoted above), "where 
there were a considerable number of people present. 
I gave my opinion freely as to the next President, 
and the character talked of for it, and the man 
whom I would prefer. Some stared, and after 
awhile objected to the man in the usual cant, that 
he came from Geneva (Gallatin, of course), but the 
number that objected was not large, nor did the 
objection (foreign birth) seem to have weight with 
many. Having named him, I defended him with 



MACON AND THE "QUIDS." 207 

true democratic zeal." Macon s advocacy of Galla- 
tin for Jefferson s successor was not meant as a 
check to Madison, and ultimately to help Monroe. 
Notwithstanding Randolph s influence, Macon 
never, except in the letter above referred to, ex 
pressed any preference for Monroe, and what proves 
till more conclusively the sincerity of his advocacy 
of the Pennsylvanian appears later in his life when 
he again turns to him for President. 

Jefferson regretted very much the "family quar 
rel," and sought by all reasonable means to conciliate 
those who found fault with his administration. Be 
fore Congress adjourned he wrote Macon 1 that 
someone was "sowing tares" among the Republican 
leaders ; that this, however, could not prove effective 
in Macon s case. A full and mutual confidence in 
each other, he said, would prevent this. He closed 
the letter by inviting Macon to dine with him. 
Whether the latter accepted we do not know, but it 
is doubtful in view of the influence Randolph and 
Nicholson were exerting over him at that time. To 
William Duane 2 he wrote similarly explaining Ran 
dolph s attitude, and declaring that the reputed cool 
ness between the President and the Southern mem 
bers did not exist, except possibly on the part of a 
few men who followed Randolph. Jefferson an 
swers the charges against him, and with regard to 
the Quids, he says, "That I have avowed or enter 
tain any predilection for those called Quids is in 
every tittle false." To Monroe, who, as we have / 
seen, was the object of Randolph s caresses, the- 
President had the following to say of Randolph and 
his followers : "Our old friend, Mercer, broke off 
from us some time ago; at first disdaining to join 
the Federalists, yet, from the habit of voting to- 

1 Macon Papers. 

2 Jeflerson s Writings, VII, 431. 



208 NATHANIEL MACON. 

gether, becoming soon identified with them. * * "* 
Mr. J. Randolph is in the same track, and will end 
in the same way. * * * Upon all trying ques 
tions, exclusive of the Federalists, the minority of 
Republicans voting with him has been from 4 to 6 
or 8." And after further particulars regarding the 
split in their party, he says, "But it is unfortunate 
for you to be embarrassed with a soi-disant friend. 
You must not commit yourself to him." 1 This was 
at the very time when Randolph was attempting to 
get Monroe to come home and enter the race for 
the Presidency against Madison. What Jefferson 
accomplished by his adroit letter writing was to 
win to himself the less violent of the disaffected, and 
leave Randolph alone in his greatness. Macon main 
tained his independence towards all but Randolph, 
and towards him in the presidential successorship. 

Just how many of the North Carolina delegates 
in the House joined Randolph s little group can not 
be determined accurately. On the first test vote, on 
the Non-importation bill, not a vote of North Caro 
lina was given against the the Administration, and 
Randolph, in order not to be alone, absented himself 
from the House. But on other occasions, Richard 
Stanford of Hillsborough, an able man and deter 
mined Republican, Thomas Wynne of Hertford, 
and Joseph Winston of Surry, affiliated with the 
Quids. There were never more than a dozen Re 
publicans in the whole country who joined the 
ranks of the Macon-Randolph-Nicholson group. 

The Ninth Congress assembled for its last session 
on December i, 1806, and the Northern Republicans, 
fearing Randolph s re-appointment at the head of 
the committee on Ways and Means, proposed to 
take from the Speaker the right of naming the 
standing committees. Alston, of North Carolina, 

1 Jefferson s Writings, VIII, 447-48. 

2 Annals of Congress, 9th Cong., 2d Sess., 127. 



MACON AND THE "QUIDS." 209 

and a friend of Macon s, favored the new plan, thus 
showing that the fear of Randolph s re-appointment 
was prevalent in the South, and on the Roanoke 
even. By an amendment to the resolution, it was 
finally passed in favor of the Speaker s appointing 
power as heretofore, but by a majority of only two. 
Macon understood the opposition to himself, and 
recognized the bad policy of placing the President s 
bitterest opponent at the head of the most important 
committee of the House, and so he appointed Jo 
seph Clay of Pennsylvania as Randolph s successor. 
Clay had defeated the resolution to elect standing 
committees, by bringing up the amendment just 
referred to. But Macon regretted much the cir 
cumstances, and wrote his friend Nicholson the next 
day, 1 "In the disagreeable seat of Speaker I write. 
I have been obliged to hear the journal read in 
which the name of J. R. was not on the Committee 
of Ways and Means. Many may no doubt think my 
feelings were too nice on this occasion ; but such 
was my sense of duty that I could not act otherwise. 
My mind was so agitated last night after writing to 
you, that I spent a sleepless night write me your 
opinion on this to me delicate subject. What a 
simple, honest, straightforward mind is here por 
trayed ! Randolph was his friend, he had been 
chairman of the committee by Macon s appointment 
since December, 1801. How trying it was to the 
Speaker to decide between devotion to his friend and 
loyalty to his country! But duty won, and Ran 
dolph was not appointed. 2 A few days after Con 
gress began its work, it was "ordered" by the House 
"that Mr. Garnett be excused from serving on the 
Committee on Ways and Means/ and that Mr. 

1 Nicholson Papers, December 2, 1806. 

2 Annals of Congress, gth Cong., 2d Sess., 110-112. 



210 NATHANIEL MACON. 

John Randolph be appointed of the said committee 
in his stead" a sort of "sop to Cerberus." But 
Cerberus did not accept. 

Opposition to the navy was a characteristic feature 
of Macon s policy. In the struggle between the 
Federalists and Republicans in 1798 on the subject 
of Protection of Trade, he had refused to vote 
any protection whatever, and had opposed allowing 
Vvar vessels to convoy trading fleets across the At 
lantic, even in case a large navy was built. When 
Jefferson s Non-importation measure came before 
Congress, the clause for authorizing additional war 
vessels and coast fortifications met Macon s posi 
tive opposition : "I can not but consider the present 
resolution as the commencement of a system of forti 
fications from one end of the continent to the other. 
I can see neither the necessity nor the policy of this 
second trial of the credit of this Government ; it was 
once found that money could not be procured on the 
credit of the United States for less than eight per 
cent per annum. * * * Gentlemen tell us of an 
American spirit. I hope I have as much of it as 
any gentleman ; but it is as much the character of the 
American spirit to conclude coolly, and act accord 
ingly, as to talk loudly. Members of this House 
are not the only persons to judge of this spirit; our 
constituents are the proper judges. * * * On 
the subject of gun-boats, I believe them better 
adapted to the defence of our harbors than any 
other. If we were now at war with any nation, 
however gentlemen may be surprised at the declara 
tion, I think we should do well to lend our navy to 
another nation also at war with that with which we 
might be at war; for I think such nations would 
manage it more to our advantage than ourselves." 1 
A curious policy, to be sure, was this ; but it was in 

* Annals of Congress, gth Cong., ist Sess., 524. 



MACON AND THE "QUIDS." 211 

accord with Macon s general attitude toward naval 
armaments. 

The Southern agriculturists had from the be-\ 
ginning opposed all such outlay, claiming that 
it was useless, and believing, without saying so, 
however, that every ship built to protect trade was 
putting arms in the hands of New England with 
which to fight them ultimately. In view of this, 
Macon was not so unwise, nor his political foresight 
so short as some have claimed. During the quarrel 
between his erratic Virginian friend and the Admin 
istration, when the subject of foreign intercourse 
was constantly before the House, Macon held this 
policy firmly in view, and opposed on every occasion 
any appropriation looking to the building of a navy. 
He even opposed the fortifying of harbors, claiming 
the gun-boat method sufficient for purposes of de 
fense. In this policy Randolph joined him, though 
as much from motives of enmity to the President as 
from set conviction. But both Macon and Ran 
dolph were advocates of the so-called "mud-turtle" 
plan of Southern expansionists. Randolph spoke 
out distinctly this Southern view of things when he 
said in the debate on the Non-importation Act: 
"What is the question in dispute? The carrying 
trade. What part of it? The fair, the honest and 
useful trade, that is engaged in carrying our own 
productions to foreign markets and bringing back 
their productions in exchange? No, sir; it is that 
carrying trade which covers enemy s property, and 
carries the coffee, the sugar, and other West Indian 
products to the mother country. No. sir ; if this 
great agricultural nation is to be governed by Salem 
and Boston, New York and Philadelphia, Baltimore 
and Norfolk, and Charleston, let gentlemen come 
out and say so. * * * I, for one, will not mort 
gage my property and my liberty to carry on this 



212 NATHANIEL MACON. 

trade." 1 When Randolph declared he would never 
vote a shilling for a navy, and Macon said "lend 
your navy to a foreign enemy of our enemy, they can 
use it to better advantage than we," they were oppo 
sing New England and speaking for the South, not 
speaking out their "American spirit." Since the 
navy was commanded by Easterners and tracje con 
trolled the Eastern cities, Macon s advice was meant 
more as a reflection on that section than as an admis 
sion of America s inferiority. 

Judged in the light of future events, the most 
important act of this session of Congress 2 was that 
which settled for a long time to come the status of 
the slave trade. Importation of foreign slaves into 
the United States had been prohibited by the Con 
stitution after January i, 1808. This bill was drawn 
in accordance with the compromise of the Consti 
tution, which had won for the Constitution the sup 
port of South Carolina in 1788. It had been conceded 
then that the slave trade might continue until 1808, 
and in consideration of this concession South Caro 
lina voted in the Constitutional Convention for the 
right of "regulating foreign commerce" to be given 
to the proposed Union. The period of twenty years 
had now passed ; South Carolina, having broken with 
her former ally, New England, had been favoring its 
extension, and now boldly claimed that Congress 
could not constitutionally prevent the trade being 
carried on if the State persisted in favoring it. 
And here began a new application of the doctrine of 
State sovereignty, which Jefferson himself could 
not have opposed consistently, and which Macon 
and Randolph incorporated into their political creed. 
This, like their opposition to the navy, was based 
upon agrarian principles. As yet the prosperity of 

1 Garland s Randolph, I., 233. 

2 Annals of Congress, gib. Cong., ad Sess., 506-507. 



MACON AND THE "QUIDS." 213 

the East depended on commerce, that of the South 
on agriculture based on slave labor. The East nom 
inally in the name of humanity, but really in the 
interest of its own supremacy was striking a blow at 
slavery; the South, in the name of agricultural 
America, but really in support of its own suprem 
acy, attempted to ward off this blow by resorting to 
the popular doctrine of State s Rights. As has been 
remarked before, it was an economic struggle, a war 
for dollars, and both parties recognized this without 
admitting it. 

Macon said in Committee of the Whole on this 
subject: "I still consider this a commercial question. 
The laws of nations have nothing more to do with 
it than the laws of the Turks or the Hindoos. * * * 
If this is not a commercial question, I would thank 
the gentleman to show what part of the Constitution 
gives any right to legislate on this subject. It is in 
vain to talk of turning these creatures loose to cut 
our throats." According to one clause of the bill, 
any attempt to import a slave was to be followed by 
forfeiture. An amendment was offered by Bidwell 
of Massachusetts which provided that no person 
should be sold as a slave as a result of this for 
feiture, i. e., the negro was to be set free. The vote 
on this clause was- a tie, and Macon promptly 
vetoed it. 1 The only North Carolina member who 
voted against Macon on this question was Joseph 
Winston of Surry, a hint that the West was not at 
one with the East on slavery. A bill was finally 
drawn up and passed by the Senate, which included 
the clause Macon had opposed, but which passed the 
House by a majority of 113 to 5, and which abol 
ished forever the foreign slave trade. Macon made 

i Annals of Congress, gth Congr. 2d Sess., 266; also Boyd s Nathaniel 
Macon in National Legislation, Trinity Archive, XIII, 156. 



\ 



214 NATHANIEL MACON. 

no opposition, and Randolph did not vote; 1 it was 
an Administration measure in its final form. 

Congress was about to close with a duel between 
the two Randolphs, Thomas M. and John, about an 
imagined insult to the former in one of the speeches 
of the latter. The matter was patched up some 
what to the disadvantage of the former, he evidently 
not desiring it to appear that the Administration 
(Thomas M. Randolph was a son-in-law of the 
President) was taking this means to get rid of a 
powerful opponent. Three or four days before the 
adjournment, Macon and Randolph had an amus 
ing encounter. The latter, speaking against a pro 
posed salt tax, said, "It appears to me that the mo 
tion before the House is nothing more or less than 
a prologue to the same miserable farce of tergiversa 
tion relative to the salt tax and the Mediterranean 
fund played over the last session. Their high migh 
tinesses, the Senate Macon called the speaker 
to order, who continued, however, without any 
change in his thought, to speak out his opinion of 
the Senate, culminating in : "If the Senate will de 
scend from their supercilious elevation." Macon 
again called Randolph to order, and the speech was 
closed after a few remarks more. 

Before the end of this session Macon broke with 
Randolph politically; he gradually turned again to 
the Administration, but without offending his friend, 
and, as we shall see, without yielding his independ 
ence. June i, 1807, he wrote Nicholson, "Since my 
return, I have been mostly at home and scarcely ever 
heard the next presidential election mentioned, 
though I am inclined to think at this time Clinton 
would unite more votes in this State than any other 
man. Madison probably more than Monroe. * * * 
As to myself, I would prefer Gallatin to any man in 

i Annals of Congress, gth Cong., 2d Sess., 486. 



MACON AND THE "QUIDS." 215 

the nation, and were the Republicans to make such 
an effort as they made to get Jefferson elected the 
first time, I am sure he would be elected by a great f 
majority. * * * The sending back the treaty (the 
work of Monroe in London) will, I think, injure ( 
Monroe; it will be taken as a proof that Jefferson 
did not approve his conduct, and certainly his sign- N 
ing it without making provision for the sailors (who 
were still being impressed), will injure him in all 
the Commercial towns/ 1 This is not the letter of a 
partisan. His opinion that North Carolina would 
vote for Clinton was based on the growth of State s 
Rights ideas. It was notorious that Clinton was 
an extremist on this subject and he was building 
up the individual interests of New York in a way 
which has caused his impress to be stamped indeli 
bly on the history of that young empire. Sentiment .. 
in North Carolina and the South was as strongly I 
particularist as ever. Macon s continued prefer 
ence for Gallatin was proof of his independence and 
his remarks on Monroe s political status show that 
he appreciated Monroe s position, but at the same 
time could do justice to Jefferson, which Ran 
dolph certainly could not. Before the assembling of 
the tenth Congress, Macon was ready for a final 
separation from "the Quids" and prepared to co 
operate with the Republican party even if Madison 
should become President. The Quids, with Ran 
dolph as their chief and political idol, continued 
their course and were to embarrass the main body 
of republicans on many an important occasion. 

Macon s speakership was ended. No one thought 
of his being elected again in the following Decem 
ber. He had been made Speaker without any exer 
tions on his part; he had been elected three times 
in succession without any scheming of his own ; he 

i Macon Papers. 



. 



216 NATHANIEL MACON. 

had supported the faction headed by Randolph and 
had given it up at his own discretion, and was now 
again in full accord with his party in the Nation. 
In North Carolina his supremacy was unquestioned, 
and there, too, without any of that organizing indus 
try and practice so common and usually so neces 
sary to political leaders. He stood plainly, in 1808 
as in 1/91, on the platform of the people s Sover 
eignty, never wavering, never faltering even at the 
risk sometimes of being charged with inconsistency. 
The. people recognized his platform and believed in 
his sincerity to a degree approximating knowledge. 
This it was which gave him primacy, and this it was, 
with his special gifts as a moderator, which had 
given him the Speakership in 1801, and continued 
to give it to him as long as the South remained 
dominant in the councils of the Republicans. His 
Speakership marks the period of American politics 
ruled by Virginia and North Carolina, and a singu 
larly interesting rule it was. 

Twice during Jefferson s administration Macon 
was offered a place in the cabinet as postmaster- 
general, but he declined. Just when these over 
tures were made has not been determined, no record 
of it appearing either in Jefferson s writings or 
among the collection of fragmentary papers which 
Macon s family have preserved. It is probable that 
one of these offers was made in 1806, when the Pres 
ident was exerting himself to detach Macon from 
Randolph s group of faultfinders. 1 

i The Macon Papers. See page 207. 

NOTE March 22 of that year Jefferson wrote Macon as follows : "Some 
enemy, whom we know not, is sowing tares among us ; between you 
a ad myself nothing but opportunities of explanation can be necessary 
to defeat these endeavors, at least on my part. My confidence in you 
is so unqualified that nothing further is necessary for my satisfaction. 
I must therefore ask a conversation with you this evening my com 
pany may perhaps stay late ; but to-morrow evening or the next I can 
be alone. I mention the evening because it is the time at which when 
we can be free from interruption. However, take the day and hour 
most convenient to yourself. Accept my affectionate salutations." 



CHAPTER XIV. 

OF THE EMBARGO, 1807-1809. 

During the summer of 1807 the tension between 
Great Britain and the Administration became so 
great that two war vessels, the Leopard, of the Brit 
ish navy, and the Chesapeake of the American, came 
to blows off the Coast of Virginia. The Chesa 
peake was ordered by the Leopard to surrender four 
deserters from the English service, which order was 
not obeyed, and in a few moments the American 
ship was under a heavy fire and Commodore Bar- 
ron, taken by surprise, was at a loss how to defend 
himself. After the loss of three men killed and 
eighteen wounded he sent up the white flag, ordered 
all his men on deck for inspection and gave up all 
whom the enemy claimed. Three negroes and one 
white man were taken ; the negroes were put to work 
on British ships, the white man was shot. The 
Chesapeake hastened to Norfolk where its wounded 
could get medical relief; the English went away 
rejoicing in the belief that an American war vessel 
was a useless old tub and that American officers 
were struck dumb with terror at the sight of an 
English man of war. 1 

Macon wrote his friend Nicholson: "Indeed the 
attack on the Chesapeake was war on the part of 
Great Britain. We must either repeal the law 
which authorized the President to issue the procla 
mation (the Non-importation) or take some steps 
to enforce it." New Englanders hailed the event 
with secret delight hoping to see their bete noire, 
Jefferson, forced to give up his measure of coercing 

i Schouler, vol. II., 166-67. 



218 NATHANIEL MACON. 

England incidentally impoverishing New England 
traders, especially in contraband of war. The Fed 
eralists, so insignificant in Washington, were fast 
becoming as potent as ever in the East; they had 
retired to their respective States, there "to die in the 
last ditches," as Jefferson s own followers had done 
in 1798-99. And they were doing Jefferson almost 
as much mischief in 1807 as his followers had done 
Adams in 1799; their rise meant the undoing of his 
favorite measure for bringing Europe to terms by 
trade restrictions. 

The Non-importation bill of the last session had 
been a subject of angry debate, a subject which Ran 
dolph pretended to make the cause of his opposition 
to the President. Non-importation was an imita 
tion of the Revolutionary policy of coercing Eng 
land. Jefferson thought, that, by ceasing to buy 
European manufactures altogether the warring 
powers would find it to their interest to adopt a rea 
sonable policy toward America, that impressment of 
American seamen and unlawful seizure of American 
trading vessels would be stopped. And had the 
whole nation acted in good faith at the President s 
suggestion and observed strictly the proclamation 
which he had been authorized to issue, there is little 
doubt that the desired result would have been at 
tained. But the East was closest to England geo 
graphically, it was also bound by family ties among 
the most influential people, and the daily occupation 
of the people was trade and seafaring. Massachu 
setts people drove a trade nine times as great as that 
of Virginia; wherever there was a sea there was a 
New England skipper driving hard bargains, cap 
turing African negroes to be sold on the sly in Vir-> 
ginia or in the Carolinas, delivering goods to the 
belligerent powers of Europe without regard for the 



OF THE; EMBARGO. 219 

rules of neutrals in war, winning for Americans the 
epithet, "Yankees." Men went out from Boston or 
Newport or New London poor and returned a year 
or two hence wealthy. How could they be expected 
to take seriously Jefferson s policy looking to the 
good of the whole Union and not to that of New 
England alone? The answer they made to the 
proclamation was secret overtures to the English 
Premier, Canning, and open beckonings to Cana 
dian governors to come over the borders and have 
talks with their great men, the members of the 
Essex Junto. They did not mean to be bound by a 
Congress which sat in a Southern city and was 
controlled by Southern men. 

Jefferson called Congress together more than a 
month earlier than usual in order to get the much 
needed help of that body in settling the trying ques 
tions which were crowding upon his administration. 
The Tenth Congress had been elected when Jeffer 
son s ship of state was sailing most smoothly and 
when the Administration was universally popular. 
It was a Jefferson Congress, Randolph excepted, 
ready to do the President s bidding. It organized 
at once, putting Macon s former rival and competi 
tor, Joseph B. Varnum of Massachusetts, in the 
Speaker s Chair and George Washington Campbell 
of Tennessee at the head of the Committee on Ways 
and Means. The North was then getting back into 
the saddle and the new Southwest, which Jefferson 
always loved next to Virginia, was second in line 
of promotion. Virginia and Carolina, the lords of 
the Roanoke, Macon and Randolph, were left out 
altogether. This change Macon had expected, and 
in order not to witness his own and Randolph s 
humiliation he remained at Buck Spring well nigh a 
month after Congress met what he had never done 



220 NATHANIEI, MACON. 

before and never did again in his remaining twenty 
years of service in Washington. Macon did not 
appear until November 16, and then it was sometime 
before he took part in the debates. He refused to 
vote December 5 on an appeal from the ruling of 
Speaker Varnum, thus showing his sensitiveness. 
Yet Macon was not supersensitive like Randolph 
nor did he allow the change of leaders in the House 
to set him blindly against the Administration. 

One of the first measures of the new Congress was 
one for arming the militia, a sort of reply to Eng 
land s warlike attitude. The whole plan of the Gov 
ernment embraced the effective organization and 
equipment of the State troops, the fortification of 
harbors and -the building of a fleet of gun boats. 
Macon at once gave hearty and enthusiastic support 
to the part of the program which aimed to improve 
the militia. This was his favorite means of de 
fense and in this way alone was he willing to grant 
large sums of money. "This is one of the most 
important questions that ever came before this 
House," and then to show his pride in always speak 
ing extempore he added, "It is one on which I have 
not reflected before coming into the House this 
morning. As to the probability of war, I may stand 
alone in the opinion which I entertain; but I have 
considered that the nation has been actually at war 
from the moment of the affair of the Chesapeake. 
* * * The late attack on the Chesapeake was as 
much war as the attack on Copenhagen. And what 
are we now doing? Are we not disputing about 
details? * * * I think the public money should 
be applied to the best purposes ; no doubt there will 
be a diversity of opinion as to what is best. We 
should immediately purchase ten or twenty thou 
sand stand of arms or any other number and put 



OF THE EMBARGO. 221 

them into the hands of the States most exposed to 
attack from sea, which is particularly necessary at 
present, as the people on the seacoast are most ex 
posed to danger." His friend Alston more nearly 
representing the Administration tried to convince 
Macon and those who agreed with him that war was 
not already begun and that wholesale measures 
ought not to be taken. Macon repeated his former 
arguments the more earnestly, urging the immediate 
purchase of arms and equipments for the States 
which were to have them properly distributed 
amongst a well-organized militia. This plan was 
the more acceptable to him because of his belief in 
the independent sovereignty of the States, and 
because it would counterbalance the growing power, 
of the Union. 

The second part of the program providing for the 
fortification of harbors and for the building of gun 
boats, he opposed with as much vehemence as he 
had favored the first part. During the preceding 
summer we find him ready to support the Admin 
istration in the building of gun boats and ready even ( 
to make terms with Madison should the latter be- 
elected President. Such was Macon s real intention 
but he did not one time think of supporting meas 
ures of which he disapproved simply because they 
were Administration measures. So the bill for gun 
boats and harbor fortifications which the President 
was now urging met his positive opposition. Jef 
ferson had asked first for the building of the gun 
boats, then he meant to ask for the equipments and 
finally for the men to man them. Macon opposed 
that kind of legislation by piece-meal and he asked 
for estimates of the cost of the total establishment. 
Blount of North Carolina, an ardent supporter of the 
Administration, undertook to explain the bill by say- 



222 NATHANIEL MACON. 

ing*the committee had another bill almost ready 
which would empower the President to equip and 
man the gun boats. This shows Jefferson s easy 
way of leading his party into measures which if 
presented complete would have been opposed. It 
is needless to say Macon voted against the bill. 1 
He wrote a little later: "By the public prints you 
have discovered that Congress have made very lib 
eral appropriations for fortifications and gun boats ; 
to this liberality I have no claim. The first seems 
now to be almost useless in Europe, and as to the 
second, we ought to have a little more experience 
before we adopt it as a measure of defence." 2 How 
our ports were to be defended he did not attempt 
to say, and his opposition does him little credit since 
he suggests no remedy whatever. When the bill 
to which Blount referred came up for discussion, 
Macon maintained his opposition first on the ground 
of his life-long opposition to all naval armaments, 
and second, because the measure proposed to give 
the President discretionary powers for raising a ma 
rine corps : "I am opposed to giving to the Presi 
dent the power of raising an army of marine, or of 
any description whatever. This discretion is what 
I have always thought wrong; and no argument 
ever convinced my mind to the contrary." 3 The bill 
finally passed, Macon voting with a minority of ten 
against one hundred and eight. Richard Stanford 
of North Carolina and John Randolph also voted 
with the little group of opponents. 

North Carolina s delegation in this Congress was 
scarcely more brilliant than that of 1795-^97, when 
Macon first began to lead. Willis Alston was its 
ablest member after Macon. Thomas Blount, 

* Annals of Congress, xoth Cong., ist Sess., 1171. 

2 Letter to John Steele, January 10, 1808. 

3 Annals of Congress, loth Cong.,ist Sess., 1498. 



REPEAL OF THE EMBARGO. 223 

Thomas Kenan and erratic Lemuel Sawyer were 
the Eastern representatives. Evan Alexander from 
Mecklenburg was there, and Richard Stanford, Ran 
dolph s friend, and Meshack Franklin, brother of 
the Governor, both of whom our historian, Wheeler, 
did not know, represented the middle West. Dun 
can MacFarland, the perpetual candidate in North 
Carolina of that day, was knocking at the door of the 
House in the form of a contest for John Culpeper s 
seat. Culpeper had gone in by a close vote in the 
Fayetteville district, and MacFarland, Federalist, 
was ready to contest the election. The House com 
mittee on elections declared the seat vacant and 
called on the Governor to issue writs for a new 
election, which was done, and Culpeper was 
returned by a safe majority, though he seems never 
to have done anything except in a religious way. 
Culpeper was a Baptist preacher in a Presbyterian 
section, was elected to the State legislature and was 
declared ineligible because of his being a minister 
of the Gospel. He was returned to Congress sev 
eral times in later years, thus gaining in the Nation 
what was not allowed him in the State. This was 
MacFarland s last fiasco in the House of Repre 
sentatives. There was no leader of the delegation, 
most of its members, however, were strict adher 
ents to the Administration and left Macon and Stan 
ford alone in their independence. 

After the passage of the militia and gun-boat bill 
Congress took up seriously the President s plan of 
trade retaliation against England. Ten years before 
Jefferson had formulated a plan which he thought, 
if it could only be put into effect, would render 
war obsolete in America. It was at the time when 
he was wishing that an ocean of fire separated 
America from Europe that he first came to believe 



224 NATHANIEL MACON. 

in an embargo as a substitute for war. Now 
he was President and an overwhelming majority in 
both Houses of Congress did his bidding and Eng 
land still persisted in insulting American naval offi 
cers by searching their ships for deserters, or im 
pressing their sailors because they could not at all 
times furnish written proof of their citizenship, or, 
simply because they spoke English. Was it not the 
best time imaginable to try the virtues of such a 
beneficial policy ? The provocation was there, Eng 
lish war vessels were actually chasing American sea 
men from their ships in our very harbors. The 
plan was resolved upon; embargo should follow 
Non-importation and England was to feel the effect 
of famine prices, to see her factories closed for the 
want of raw material, while at the same time her 
store houses were filled to overflowing with unsala 
ble manufactures. Our ships were to keep close 
in the harbors or high up the rivers, no foreign 
trader was to depart without special orders from the 
President on pain of confiscation ; the coast traders 
were to dart in and out from harbor to harbor like 
spring chickens dodging a hawk. Ship-owners and 
traders were to be fined twice the value of each ship 
if found violating the provisions of the proposed law 
and all the forces of the army and navy were to be 
placed at the disposal of the Executive for its effec 
tive enforcement. 1 In a few days the embargo was 
before Congress and within four days it became a 
law with all the clauses necessary for the enforce 
ment of the ideas pointed out above. Never did a 
President have his wishes more speedily complied 
with. The embargo was an experiment and a rea 
sonable one ; there was no ground for doubting that 
it would bring England to terms if it were enforced 
strictly everywhere for one or two years. Warring 

See Act of January 9, 1808 Annals of Congress, passim. 



OF THE; EMBARGO. 225 

Europe was in need of supplies which America 
chiefly furnished. But, as already said, the enforce 
ment was the question and many doubted the ability 
of the government to enforce a law which required 
large numbers of wealthy men to close up their busi 
ness. 1 The law went into effect at once and com 
plaints and petitions began to pour in upon the 
President and Congress. 

Macon approved of the embargo especially since 
it would render increase of the navy unnecessary; 
Randolph at first favored but finally opposed it. 
But the plan was in full accord with the political 
principles of both Randolph and Macon. 2 

Evasion of the law became general at once in the 
maritime States and England lent her assistance. 
Canada was made a dumping ground for New Eng 
land merchants. On Lake Champlain New England 
traders defied the officers of the United States and 
carried their goods in triumph past the custom 
houses. Prosecutions for violation of law proved 
abortive, because the juries were all against it; the 
President s authority was made ridiculous from the 
Hudson to St. Croix. Under such circumstances 
England not only refused to sue for peace, but 
became more arrogant as New England became 
more violent. 3 France, too, against which the 
embargo was also directed, refused to give any 
serious attention to a policy which was not enforced 
at home and which therefore had no serious influ 
ence on the French food supply. All through the 
first session of the Tenth Congress, that is, in 1807- 
1808, the Administration was bolstering up its 
unpopular law in order to make it effective and thus 

1 See Schouler II., 180-185. 

2 Garland s Life of Randolph, I., 266- 6y. 

3 See Hart s Formation of the Union, 

15 



226 NATHANIEL MACON. 

to bring foreign powers to some kind of terms, but 
it was all in vain. Macon remained firm in his 
support o the bill even though it brought immedi 
ate loss to him as a tobacco grower. He claimed 
with Randolph that it only required a steady adher 
ence to the policy to bring about the desired effect 
and he blamed bitterly the Eastern men for practi 
cally annulling a law of the Union that Union 
which they had loved and adored so much in 1798. 
Toward the end of the session, the Administration, 
becoming more apprehensive of war, called on Con 
gress for an increase of the army by 6,000 men. 
Macon recognized the need of a stronger force and 
decided in the beginning to give the President his 
support. He wrote Nicholson, 1 * * * "Our situa 
tion is every day growing worse and it seems to me 
that we must prepare for the last reasoning of na 
tions or rather of governments, and in this situation 
we must raise a few troops for some defenceless 
places." Macon expected Randolph would oppose the 
bill and said as much in this letter, explaining at the 
same time his own attitude : "Randolph will, I 
expect, oppose the bill for raising 6,000 men, so 
that he and myself will split on the question. You 
remember that two years ago we split on the same 
question for raising troops, he for, and myself 
against." On the same day that this was written 
he felt constrained to explain his vote and to show 
why he reversed his lifetime policy with, regard to 
this subject. Randolph had alluded to the attitude 
of the Republicans in 1798 and hinted at Macon s 
inconsistency. "There is no analogy," said Macon, 
"between the present crisis and that of 1798, * : 
then we seemed to try to provoke a war in fact 
were the attacking party; now we have been 
attacked. The attack on the Chesapeake is not dis- 

i Macon to Joseph H. Nicholson, April 4, 1808. 



REPEAL OF THE EMBARGO. 227 

puted. Notwithstanding this, I do not believe that 
we shall have any serious invasion ; yet it is certainly 
probable after what has taken place, that attempts 
may be made to attack some of our towns, for the 
purpose of laying contributions on them. Under 
this impression I shall act." He continued in a 
rather long speech justifying his actions, though 
with some difficulty from his point of view. He 
drew the distinction between the present plan and 
former ones, saying: "I do not consider the troops 
to be raised intended for a Peace Establishment. 
If I did, I should not vote for the bill. * * * It has 
been said there would be great difficulty in getting 
the men. This will in some measure depend on the 
proper selection of officers ; but be this as it may, 
notwithstanding I am in favor of the bill, I feel no 
reluctance in saying, that I believe it is almost as 
difficult to get clear of a Military Peace Establish 
ment, as it is to enlist the privates for the estab 
lishment. * * * I have heard to-day, and at former 
times, a maxim boldly advanced, which to me never 
appeared correct or true ; that to preserve peace you 
must be prepared for war. In all countries, espe 
cially those which are free, the thirst for military 
fame is greater than that for civil, and if it gets a 
complete ascendency, is extremely difficult to allay. 
It may be observed, that our country is not exempt 
from this passion which has done so much injury 
to the human race. We seem to admire the heroic 
actions of our young men, more than we do the civil 
virtues of Franklin, Hancock, Adams, and Dickin 
son; though it would be no easy question to decide 
whether Washington was a greater civil or a mili 
tary character, yet his military character is that 
which I believe gives the nation the most delight." 1 

i Annals of Congress, loth Cong., ist Sess., vol. II., i934- s8. 



228 NATHANIEL MACON. 

Macon was in fact inconsistent with many of his 
former professions but not inconsistent with his 
Republican creed. The army increase was neces 
sary ; Gallatin, his best friend in the Administration, 
was in favor of it. Ample assurance was given that 
these new troops would be disbanded when the 
danger was passed and so it was Randolph, not 
Macon, who was open to criticism from his party. 

It was during this session that Macon and Ran 
dolph were oftenest found disagreeing, and it is 
not a little amusing to see how each tried to explain 
to the other the cause of his opposing vote. Macon 
speaks "with respect" when he finds himself not in 
accord with his friend, and Randolph with many 
compliments to his "worthy and much respected" 
friend from North Carolina. Fair examples of their 
references are as follows : Macon : "I should not 
have spoken on this subject, had not allusions been 
made by a gentleman from Virginia (Randolph) 
to what had been done in the year 1795 a gentle 
man whom I much respect and who, I believe, per 
fectly reciprocates my respect. A sincere desire to 
retain this respect induces me to speak." Randolph : 
"My worthy friend from North Carolina, whose 
dissent from my opinion would have caused me to 
distrust it if I had not conceived that his own 
speech in favor of the army was one of the most 
masterly arguments against it"; and again, "I feel 
the deepest concern whenever I differ with the gen 
tleman in question, and nothing but the impulse of 
honest duty, knowing as I did of the difference 
which existed between us on the subject, could have 
prevailed upon me to rise yesterday. I say, it is a 
matter of surprise and regret to me that he should 
support this bill ; that he should declare the present 
establishment useless, and, at the same time, declare 



OF THE EMBARGO. 229 

his willingness to increase it threefold. I hope the 
gentleman will pardon me for taking this notice of 
his arguments." 1 It appeared at times as if they 
would fall into each other s arms and weep. Con 
gress must have been amused at the Damon and 
Pythias exhibitions of this session and certainly the 
close-trading New Englanders enjoyed seeing their 
enemies undo each other s speeches and votes. 
Whatever the other members thought, Randolph and 
Macon were sincere friends, neither of whom had 
sufficient sense of humor to appreciate the ridicu 
lous figure they made in their declarations of love 
before the House. 

During this session of Congress several questions 
arose and were determined in a way very interesting 
to us. The capital was about to be removed from 
Washington back to Philadelphia. Northern mem 
bers complained at the poor conveniences for living 
in the little city on the Potomac. Macon responded : 
"It is possible you might live better in Philadelphia 
than here, but not cheaper. If we should move I 
should be opposed to going to any large city. * * * 
There is scarce any other place in the United States 
to which I had not rather go than to Philadelphia 
I had rather go to Frederickstown, Hagerstown or 
Winchester. We may talk about our independence, 
but every man in Congress, when at Philadelphia, 
knew that city had more than its proportionate 
weight in the representation of the Union. Go to 
any city and the same influence will be experienced. 
Do gentlemen recollect what was the state of the 
public mind there during the years 1797 and 1798 
the time when the name of Republican and Demo 
crat was accounted a disgrace? There are gentle 
men in my hearing who were then associated with 

i Annals of Congress, loth Cong., ist Sess., vol. II., 1952, 



230 NATHANIEI, MACON. 

me in legislation, and who know and will attest the 
truth of what I say, that we were shunned as a pes 
tilence the yellow fever could not have been more 
carefully avoided. I do not mention this as a reflec 
tion on the Administration, but as an evidence of 
what may be expected in large cities. We may do 
very well in peaceable times, but come to the times 
which try men s souls, and we shall have to desert 
them for Princeton or some other convenient vil 
lage." 1 And a little further on he gives another 
reason which caused him to oppose removal to Phil 
adelphia and it was equivalent to a formal announce 
ment of his policy: "The charter of the Bank of 
the United States expires in 1811. In 1809, it is 
proposed we shall be in Philadelphia. We shall 
then have two years before to talk and be talked to 
about this bank. If we must remove, let us go over 
the Alleghanies. * These large cities have 

always had too much influence in this body; go 
among them and it will be increased a hundred 
fold." Dislike of cities, a fear of their riotous 
behavior during national crises, hatred for their 
snobbish ways and positive opposition to the 
National Bank in Philadelphia were the controlling 
motives with him on this subject. As a matter 
of fact he could not forget the hatred of Philadel 
phia for himself and party, how Jefferson had been 
avoided there in 1798 as though he were a public 
enemy, how McPherson s Band of musicians played 
the rogue s march at the doors of himself and friends 
in 1798 because fashionable life in Philadelphia 
detested theii politics. 2 He was not alone in hi* 
opinion that a great city is no place for the capital 
of a republic. Adams, the best of Federalists, said 

* Annals of Congress, roth Cong., ist Sess., vol. II., 340. 
2 Annals of Congress, loth Cong., ist Sess., vol II., 1562. 



REPEAL 01? THE EMBARGO. 231 

there was danger in a big city. Jefferson was of 
like opinion. 

Another subject came up several times and its 
treatment shows the whole Democratic party had 
come to hold unfriendly opinions toward the 
Supreme Court. It was proposed now by Massa 
chusetts men that the Judges be removed on peti 
tion of both Houses of Congress. This, as we have 
seen, had been Randolph s plan some three years 
before. There must have been general fear of the 
encroachments of the Court under the strong hand 
of John Marshall, else both wings of the great 
Democratic party would scarce have come over to 
Randolph s apparently partisan and personal policy. 
Senators, too, it was proposed by the Virginia legis 
lature to Congress, should be removable by a 
majority vote of their respective State Assemblies. 1 
Republicanism was growing stronger and so it 
desired to lop off all the aristocratic features of the 
government. There was to be only one supreme 
body, Congress, and that was to be subject to bi 
ennial elections, i. e., the people were the real sov 
ereigns and they must so be recognized. Men were 
getting as far from Hamilton s ideals as possible; 
Jefferson s were in full ascendency notwithstanding 
the "family quarrel" and the ominous growls in the 
East. 

The engineering and wire-pulling relative to the 
successorship to the presidency were so much in 
evidence this session that Macon thought the public 
interests as well as the characters of public leaders 
were suffering. Between Madison, Monroe, Clin 
ton and Gallatin he was at no loss for whom to 
vote; but with Gallatin s name stricken from the 
list of availables he knew not where to place his 

1 Annals of Congress, loth Cong., ist Sesi., vol. II., i6i5- 96. 



232 NATHANIEL MACON. 

influence. "When great men, so-called, agree in 
general principles, or in other words, when the men 
held up for the next President are of the same 
political party, is it worth while for little men, so- 
called, to take great concern which of these shall fill 
the office or the Great House? * * * The Clin- 
tonians evidently are on the Monroe side. . In re 
flecting on this subject I have been inclined to an 
opinion, that the great, so-called, might as well take 
care of themselves and their characters as those who 
are not so-called. When a principle is involved in 
the election of a particular man, it is then quite a 
different question; where men of the same princi 
ples are candidates for the same office it looks much 
like a contest for the loaves and fishes. * * * But 
with us there may be another cause for supporting 
candidates with the same principles, this is State 
prejudice or partiality, to which may be added the 
general unwillingness of great States to have either 
P. or V.-P. from small States." Then showing his 
appreciation of the rising tide of opposition from 
New England and commercial centres generally to 
the embargo laws, he concluded : "I suspect we shall 
have a dust raised in the House before the adjourn 
ment ; * * * ^ seems to me there must be an explo 
sion before we part. Too much heat has been col 
lected since we have been reading and not speaking 
to be suffered to pass quietly away." 1 And six days 
later he again wrote his friend: "Yours of the 2d 
instant was last night received, the opinion men 
tioned by you as given by some federalists is the 
universal doctrine of that party and I fear that some 
[Madison] of another party are not very different 
in their sentiments ; but our situation is every day 
growing worse and it seems to me that we must 

1 To Joseph H. Nicholson, March 29, 1808. 



REPEAL OF THE EMBARGO. 233 

prepare for the last reasoning of nations or rather 
of governments. * * * We must either repeal the 
law which authorized the President to issue the 
proclamation or to take some steps to enforce it." 1 
Thus the idea of repealing the embargo came to 
him within four months from its passage. In April, 
1808, our choice in foreign policy was restricted 
either to rigid enforcement of the embargo or a dec 
laration of war. And he made up his mind, as we 
shall see, for the former. 

Macon s attitude toward the coming campaign 
was painfully uncertain. Again and again he was 
approached by the warring factions and again and 
again he refused each any assurance of his support. 
And his influence was important; the weight of 
North Carolina s vote would go according to his 
suggestion. That he was himself much at sea and 
out of touch with both parties at this time is shown 
by the following letter: "I am not in the secrets of 
any one here, no not one ; all, all, except myself, are 
engaged in making Presidents. And you (Nichol 
son) know enough of public life to know that in 
great election contests, he that does not take an ac 
tive part on one side or the other, is generally hated 
by both, and always suspected by both, no matter 
how honest his indifference or how sincerely he may 
believe the contest a matter of no consequence." 
And coming again to his old favorite, Gallatin, he 
adds, "or how willing he may be to support one, 
whom he would prefer to either of those named, 
and one whom he thought better qualified in every 
respect for the appointment, but whom neither of 
the parties would take, not because he is unfit." 2 

While the embargo was beginning to go into 
effect, Pickering, the former Secretary of State, 

i Jos.H. Nicholson, March 29, 1808 ; compare letter of April 4, p. 226. 
* To Joseph H. Nicholson, April 6, 1808. 



234 NATHANIEL, MACON. 

and George Cabot announced to New England their 
program of opposition which called for concerted 
action of all the commercial States against the 
Administration. Cabot declared "our best citizens 
consider the interests of the United States inter 
woven with those of Great Britain, and that our 
safety depends on hers." Rufus King, Hamilton s 
friend in the Miranda scheme, joined the New Eng 
land malcontents, all of whom now entered into a 
close league with each other and opened correspond 
ence with the representatives of Great Britain rela 
tive to concerted action between Old and New Eng 
land against Jefferson and his Southerners. 1 This 
opposition found public expression in all the New 
England papers and so impressed the Executive 
that Campbell as Chairman of the committee on 
Ways and Means recommended to Congress, April 
12, a measure looking to the suspension of the 
embargo during the coming vacation in case the 
President deemed it necessary. Crowningshield of 
Massachusetss made his last speech in favor of the 
new resolution hoping that pressure could be 
brought to bear from his section sufficient to compel 
Jefferson to yield. The opportunity was too tempt 
ing to Randolph for him not to chastise the Admin 
istration with his unmerciful invective and sarcasm. 
Macon contented himself with voting against the 
proposition on the ground that it would place too 
much power in the President s hands. 2 He had 
always voted against the granting of such powers 
even in the case of Washington in the crisis of 
I 793- The Administration prevailed, and the act 
conferring on the President the power to suspend the 
embargo passed April 21. But Jefferson was not 
desirous of using plenary powers in these trying 

1 Schouler, II., 202-03. 

i Annals of Congress, loth Cong., ist Sess., vol. II., 2243-44. 



OF THE EMBARGO. 235 

times and so he recommended an early reassembling 
of Congress. 

A s was anticipated the first proposition brought 
before Congress at the next sesion, which began 
November 7, with almost every member present, was 
one for immediately repealing the embargo. The 
East, not strong in numbers, was determined in 
aspect and speech-making. Madison, whose elec 
tion was already a certainty, had agreed to take up 
the President s burden but he was not as yet wil 
ling to repeal the law. Campbell made a long report 
but was unable to unite the House on any measure. 
Then Gallatin, Madison and Macon put their heads 
together with the result that Macon introduced a 
series of resolutions on November 17. These were 
as follows : 

i. "That the committee appointed on that part of 
the President s message which relates to our foreign 
relations, be instructed to inquire into the expedi 
ency of excluding by law from the ports, harbors and 
waters of the United States all armed ships and ves 
sels belonging to any of the belligerent powers hav 
ing in force orders or decrees violating the lawful 
commerce of the United States as a nation. 

2.. "That the same be instructed to inquire into 
the expediency of prohibiting by law the admission 
into the ports, harbors, and waters of the United 
States, any ship or vessel belonging to or coming 
from any place in the possession of any of the above 
mentioned po\\ers, and also the importation of any 
goods, wares and merchandise, the growth, produce 
and manufactures of the dominions of any of the 
said powers. 

3. "That the same committee be instructed to 
inquire into the expediency of amending the act 
laying an embargo, and the several acts supple 
mentary and additional thereto." 



236 NATHANIEL MACON. 

When introducing these resolutions Macon de 
clared that America should enforce to the letter the 
whole embargo system. "Has the love of gain 
superseded every other motive in the breasts of 
Americans? Shall the majority govern, or shall a 
few wicked and abandoned men drive this nation 
from the ground it has taken? Is it come to this 
that a law constitutionally enacted, even after a for 
mal decision in favor of its constitutionality, can not 
be enforced ? Shall a nation give way to the oppo 
sition of a few, and those the most profligate part 
of the community? * * * Just as our measure is 
beginning to operate, just as provisions are becom 
ing scarce in the West Indies and elsewhere, not 
withstanding the evasion of our law, we are called 
upon to repeal it." Then, reviewing the latest proc 
lamation of England against neutral commerce, he 
said: "This proclamation then tells our citizens, 
Evade the laws of your country, and we will receive 
and protect you. If the mad Powers of Europe 
had entered into a compact to injure us as much 
as they could, they could not have taken a more 
direct course to it. I consider them both (France 
and England) alike, and the measures I would take 
would place them both on the same footing. I 
have thought proper to bring forward all these 
resolutions together to show my own opinion on 
what ought to be done. * * * I believe the em 
bargo was right; that it was right to pass laws to 
enforce it. And believing this, I feel no hesitation 
in avowing it. Time has been when the improve 
ment of our seamen was cried out against by a 
farge majority of Congress. Now the cry is, that 
we will not let them go out and be taken, for if they 
go out they must be taken. Neither of the two 
great Powers of Europe have shown the least dis- 



OF THE EMBARGO. 237 

position to relax their measures; neither, I hope, 
shall we. I believe we have but three alternatives, 
waY, embargo or submission. The last I discard ; 
* * * then the only question is, whether in the 
present state of the world, the embargo or war is 
the best for us. * * * I am for the embargo yet." 
And in answer to the statement that the embargo 
was not burdensome to the South, he said, "The 
country in which I live feels the measure as much 
as any; they are agriculturists, and their crops 
remain unsold; and they will do without the prin 
cipal, and resist imposition by withholding their 
produce ; those who make a profit by the freight of 
our produce may afford to lose that profit." 1 

Josiah Quincy replied to Macon: "Is this House 
touched with that insanity which is the never-fail 
ing precursor of the intention of Heaven to destroy ? 
Are the people of New England, after eleven months 
of deprivation of the ocean, to be commanded still 
longer to abandon it for an undefined period, to 
hold their unalienable rights, at the tenure of Brit 
ain or Bonaparte, a people, commercial in all re 
spects, in all their relations, in all their recollections 
of the past, in all their prospects of the future a 
people, whose first love was the ocean, the choice 
of their childhood, the approbation of their manly 
years, the most precious inheritance of their fathers, 
"et cetera, * * * I am lost in astonishment, Mr. 
Chairman. I have not words to express the match 
less absurdity of this attempt. I have no tongue to 
express the swift and headlong destruction which a 
blind perseverance in such a system must bring 
upon the nation. The gentleman from North Caro 
lina exclaimed the other day, in a strain of patriotic 
ardor, What, shall not our laws be executed ? Shall 

i Annals of Congress, loth Cong., 2d Sess., 497-99. 



238 NATHANIEL MACON. 

their authority be defied ? I am for enforcing them 
at every hazard. I honor that gentleman s zeal; 
and I mean no deviation from that true respect I 
entertain for him when I tell him that in this in 
stance his zeal is not in accordance with his knowl 
edge. I ask this House, is there no control to its 
authority, is there no limit to the power of this Na 
tional Legislature? I hope I shall offend no man 
when I intimate that two limits exist: Nature and 
the Constitution. * * * Suppose some one, in 
1788, in the Convention of Massachusetts, while 
debating upon the adoption of this Constitution, and 
with an eye looking deep into futurity, with a pro 
phet s ken, had thus addressed the Assembly : Fel 
low citizens of Massachusetts, to what ruin are you 
hastening? * * * Sir, does any man believe 
that, with such a prospect into futurity, the people 
of that State would have for one moment listened to 
its adoption?" 1 This was returning Macon s own 
argument against the Alien and Sedition laws of 
1798; the situation was reversed exactly, and the 
representatives of Massachusetts were ready to draw 
their Virginia and Kentucky resolutions to make 
solemn protest in the name of their sovereign State. 
The Macon resolutions of November 17 were 
given the form of a bill, and he made a very long 
speech in its favor on December 3, and on this occa 
sion he waxes eloquent in his advocacy of the bill. 
"We have not Hannibal at the gate; but Rome and 
Carthage have both declared against us. * * * 
I am now willing, and always willing, to go as far 
as any member of the House in the protection of the 
trade which fairly grew out of the agriculture and 
fisheries of the United States. I never will consent 
to risk the best interests of the nation for a trade 

i Annals of Congress, loth Cong., 2d Sess., 537-545. 



OF THE EMBARGO. 239 

which we can carry on only when Europe is at war." 
New England had no just cause of complaint. "Be 
fore the war tobacco was ten dollars a hundred at 
Petersburg, in Virginia, and in great demand; and 
before the war ended it was less than three dollars 
at the same place, and not in demand," which, he 
maintained, was evidence enough that his section 
was suffering as much from the embargo as any 
other. It is well known, says Schouler, that Jeffer 
son s final bankruptcy was set in motion by the 
very laws which he recommended as the best for the 
whole country. Macon suffered fully as much rel 
atively. It was at this time that Macon began earn 
estly to exhort members of Congress that to main 
tain the Union as inviolable was our only means of 
safety. "It appears to me that there never was a 
time in which it was more necessary than the pres 
ent, practically to observe one of the admonitions 
printed on the old Continental money United we 
stand, divided we fall. Nothing but a strict atten 
tion to this can secure our rights ; it will, as form 
erly, secure to us all that we ought in justice to 
expect." 1 

On the following day, i. e. } December 4, 1808, 
Macon wrote Nicholson : "The war men in the 
House of Representatives are, I conceive, gaining 
strength, and I should not be surprised if we should 
not be at war with both Great Britain and France 
before the 4th March. Gallatin is most decidedly 
for war, and T think the Vice-President and W. C. 
Nicholas are of the same opinion. It is said that 
the President gives no opinion as to the measure 
that ought to be adopted ; it is not known whether he 
be for war or for peace. It is reported that Mr. 
Madison is for the plan which I have submitted, with 

i Annals of Congress, loth Cong., 2d Sess., 669-674. 



240 NATHANIEL MACON. 

the addition of high protecting duties to encourage 
the manufactures of the U. S. I am as much 
against war as Gallatin is in favor of it ; then I have 
continued in Congress till there is not one of my old 
fellow-laborers that agree with me in opinion. I 
do not know what plan Randolph will pursue. He 
is against continuing the embargo. I wish he 
would lay some plan before the House. (Why?) 
It grieves me to the heart to be compelled, from a 
sense of right and duty, to oppose him." And then 
again referring to his own isolation, he said : "I am 
not consulted, as you seem to suppose, about any 
thing, nor do I consult any one. I am about as 
much out of fashion as our grandmothers ruffle 
cuffs, and I do not believe I shall be in fashion 
[again] as soon as they will." And then, in the 
postscript, although he was doing all he could in a 
contrary direction, he added : "It is probable that 
the embargo may be taken off before the adjourn 
ment. We have those who think it will, and that 
war will immediately follow. I suspect all the N. 
E. Republicans are for war and no embargo. You 
know it is no easy task to prevent what they want." 
Macon s bill was superseded by another, which 
provided for repealing the obnoxious embargo alto 
gether. This last attempt at repeal was successful. 
New England was up in arms, and Congress was 
almost forced by an insignificant minority to pass a 
measure which the majority had made the most 
prominent article of its policy. It was a question of 
Union or dis-Union, and the South shrank from 
such a catastrophe at that stage of its existence. 
Macon wrote, February 28, 1809: "Otis, the Secre 
tary of the Senate, has this minute informed the H. 
of R. that the Senate have agreed to the amend 
ments made by the House to the bill to repeal the 



OF THE; EMBARGO. 241 

embargo, etc. The Lord, the Mighty God, must 
come to our assistance, or I fear we are undone as 
a nation/ 1 Macon did what he could to prevent a 
bill for a repeal from coming before the House; 
failing in this, he had little to say during the last 
days of this Congress. He had regained his posi 
tion in his party, and was from this time till the 
outbreak of war three years later one of the fore 
most figures in American politics. 

As is shown in his letter, the Administration was 
deserting its favorite plan. Jefferson was longing 
for Monticello as sincerely as Washington had 
sighed for Mount Vernon, and feeling keenly his 
defeat by his ancient enemies, the Easterners, he 
said not a word and let things drift till a few days 
before the 4th of March, when he gave reluctant 
assent to the bill which undid his whole foreign 
policy and stamped the seal of failure on his favorite 
scheme of rendering war unnecessary in settling the 
disputes of nations. Jefferson retired amid the 
jeers of the wealthy classes in New England, but 
conscious that the love and admiration of the Amer 
ican people followed him. 2 

1 To Joseph H. Nicholson. 

2 Compare Schouler, II., 216, 220. 



16 



CHAPTER XV. 

MACON A NATIONAL CHARACTER, 1809-1812 

The Republican party lost considerable strength 
in North Carolina as a result of Jefferson s embargo 
policy, and the State s delegation in the Eleventh 
Congress was not altogether to Macon s liking. John 
Stanly, Lemuel Sawyer, Richmond Pearson and 
Archibald McBryde, in the main new members, were 
more often found voting with the Federalists than 
with the Republicans. And on no occasion did all 
the North Carolinians vote on the same side of a 
question. Macon was not the leader of this dele 
gation, as he had been of the previous ones. Party 
lines were not drawn so closely in the South as they 
had been, and everybody was in a tolerant humor at 
the first session of Congress, May and June, 1809. 
The East, to be sure, was still firm, and actually 
regaining what had been lost in 1804 and 1805. In 
the Middle States, as in the South, lukewarm Re 
publicans had been returned. So that there were 
practically three parties in Congress: the Federal 
ists, the "old" Republicans of the South, and the 
"manufacturing" Republicans of the North. In the 
election of Speaker, the two sections of the Republi 
can party found positive expression. The Northern 
Republicans supported Varnum, while the Southern 
ers voted for Macon; Pitkin, of Connecticutt, re 
ceived the vote of the Federalists. On the second 
ballot, Macon received 45 against Varnum s 65 
votes ; this rather unexpected popularity and special 
strength with Southern Republicans was the immed 
iate cause of Macon s becoming a national character 
of first-rate importance in iSoQ-iSn. 1 

i Annals of Congress, nth Cong,, vol. I., 54-56 ; Schouler, vol. II., 317. 



MACON A NATIONAL CHARACTER. 243 

The political situation of 1809 was unique. Mad 
ison, a fine old lady, occupied the President s chair. 
In his cabinet were two factions, or cliques. Robert 
Smith, of Maryland, who was "backed" by a large 
family influence both in his own State and in Virgin 
ia, and whose brother was not an insignificant mem 
ber of the Senate, had forced his way into the posi 
tion of Secretary of State, an office for which Galla- 
tin was pre-eminently fitted, and which Jefferson 
and Madison had already agreed he should have. 
But Gallatin was losing caste in Pennsylvania, was 
none too popular elsewhere, and was too unsuspect 
ing, Macon thought, to compete with the active in 
fluences of Smith s "friends." Madison was not 
the man to say "no" to these new influences, and the 
able Pennsylvanian did not receive the promotion 
he deserved. This caused discord in the Cabinet 
not unlike that of Adams administration, and these 
factions extended their ramifications into both 
houses of Congress. 

Before Madison was inaugurated, Gallatin told 
Erskine, the British Envoy, that the President-elect 
was not so anti-English as Jefferson had been, 
which led to condescending overtures from London 
touching a better understanding on the subject of 
neutral trade. Erskine promised more than his 
master, Canning, had authorized the Orders in 
Council were to be revoked, notwithstanding Eng 
land had captured one hundred and eight merchant 
men the year before! Madison lent a willing ear 
to these assurances, and issued a proclamation that 
the strict Non-intercourse laws would, with a few 
exceptions, cease to be effective after June 10. Mad 
ison suddenly became the hero of the New England- 
ers, and Jefferson was looked at askance even in 
his own faithful South for having given" the country 



244 NATHANIEL MACON. 

so many lean years of embargo, when, as it ap 
peared under the new regime, there had been no 
need for it. 

Congress had come together May 22, and the 
back-country and Southern members learned for the 
first time that the war storm in which the campaign 
had been made had blown over; there was only 
good news for the mild and pacific Madison to com 
municate to the assembled legislature. The ships pf 
New England had all been set a-going, tobacco and 
wheat from the South were in great demand already, 
England was the kindliest of nations. The "new 
broom was sweeping clean." 

What was there for good Republicans to do? 
Reduce the army, reform the navy, and correct 
abuses. Jefferson had, very much against his will, 
as every one knew, increased the standing army in 
1808. Randolph very adroitly moved on the second 
day of the new session that those "troops raised 
under the act of April 12, 1808, be immediately dis 
banded," and that any balance of public money 
intended for building gun-boats "be applied toward 
arming and equipping the whole body of militia of 
the United States." And going beyond this undo 
ing of Jefferson s work, he introduced a second reso 
lution calling for a committee of investigation to 
examine into the accounts of the last two adminis 
trations, to report irregularities and submit recom 
mendations how to curtail expenditure. The mem 
bers of the House, delighting so much in the sun 
shine of the new Administration, suffered Randolph 
to make several sarcastic speeches on the policy of 
the retiring President. Macon, recalling the inves 
tigations which Washington had asked in 1796, and 
which an irate House had forced on Adams in 1801, 
and favoring investigation from principle, reinforced 



MACON A NATIONAL CHARACTER. 245 

Randolph by saying: "I would establish it as a rule 
never to be departed from, that whenever a man 
goes out of office, there should be an investigation 
into the money transactions conducted by him. I 
wish it w r ere a part of the National Constitution." 1 
Macon was Jefferson s staunchest friend, yet he 
wrote Nicholson, May 25 : "I am for striking out 
the part which relates to reporting provision for the 
better accountability of public money, and for leav 
ing the committee nothing to do except the exami 
nation of the expenditure and the application of 
public money. I wish the committee may have no 
excuse for not making a full investigation." But 
Macon was not so content with Randolph when he 
passed severe strictures on Jefferson s embargo. "I 
differ totally from the gentleman from Virginia," he 
said. And again, when Randolph urged a vote of 
approbation for Madison, Macon opposed him, see 
ing clearly the mean partisanship of his friend. 2 
This last resolution of Randolph s was lost only by 
the Speaker s vote. Thus while half the members 
of a Republican Congress were bowing down before 
the throne of the new power and criticizing in the 
severest manner all the important measures of the 
man who had made Madison possible, Macon de 
clared openly before all that he was for the embargo, 
that it was not the fault of the bill or of Jefferson 
but of the people that made it a failure ; yet much as 
he admired Jefferson he opposed giving him the 
privilege of mailing his letters free of charge. 3 Ma 
con was appointed a member of the investigating 
committee provided for in Randolph s first two reso 
lutions and as apoears from a letter of June 23, he 
served: Every thing in my power will be done; and 

* Annals of Congress, nth Cong., I., 66-67. 

2 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., I., 107. 

3 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., I. , 148. 



246 NATHANIEL MACON. 

I may tell you in confidence that although the com 
mittee are well disposed, owing to Randolph s 
engagements on [other] committees, [it] leaves 
me much of the inquiring part. Gallatin s answers 
to the inquiries are not received by the committee." 1 

While things were as yet going smoothly with the 
great warring nations of Europe, while the embargo 
was fast expiring and almost all the protective feat 
ures of the Non-importation laws were disappearing, 
the "manufacturing" Republicans in cooperation 
with some Federalists began to revive and expand 
Hamilton s policy of protecting manufacturers. 2 In 
view of Macon s uncompromising opposition to all 
forms of protection, and especially from this time 
on, it may be well to quote the main resolution : 
"Resolved, - that for the protection of those who 
have commenced, and the encouragement of those 
who may be disposed to set on foot, manufacturers 
within the United States, etc., provision ought forth 
with to be made by law to subject to additional 
duties on their importation into the United States 
all articles of which leather, hemp, and cotton are 
the chief materials; woolen cloths above six shil 
lings per yard; woolen hosiery, glass, paper, silver, 
nails, hats, clothing ready made, beer, ale and por 
ter." 

Macon replied to Lyon s remarks on this subject: 
"In the country in which I live, the people want no 
protecting duties to encourage domestic manufac 
tures ; the only way to encourage them is for our 
great people, for instance the Presidents and Heads 
of Departments, to make them fashionable. I have 
no idea of laying a tax to induce men to work in 

1 To Joseph H. Nicholson, June 23, 1809 ; also Annals of Congress, nth 
Cong., I., 163. 

2 Bacon s and Lyon s resolutions, Annals of Congress, nth Cong., I., 

182-184. 



/f 



: N v 

UNIVER31" 

OF 

_MACON A NATIONAL CHARACTER. 247 

iron, leather or any other article. The people who 
favored the embargo, did not look upon it as does 
the gentleman, as an encouragement to manufac 
turing. Whilst the present Constitution remains 
to the United States it is utterly impossible for the 
United States to become a manufacturing nation. 
The Government must be materially changed before 
it can succeed." 1 Protection as a policy was not 
begun at this session but a resolution passed calling 
on the Secretary of the Treasury to submit plans 
for the adoption of such a system at the next session 
of Congress. Yet a majority of the members voted 
for the principle under the head of non-intercourse 
with France which had to be arranged as a result 
of the English friendliness. And Madison, as we 
have seen, had favored protective duties since 1808, 
when it was seen that embargo must be abandoned. 
Madison, true to his compromising disposition, was 
willing to make friends with this new element of 
his party. Hamilton s devoted followers in the East 
opposed this policy of their great leader now that it 
appeared in Republican garb. But a deeper reason 
was that the interests of commerce would apparently 
suffer if domestic manufacturing should become 
general and prosperous. The South was likewise 
opposed to protection as it had always been except 
from the individual States to their own industries. 
The Middle States and Kentucky were its champi- 
ions the way was preparing for Henry Clay. 

A letter of Macon s written near the close of the 
session shows how close an observer he was and 
manifests at the same time his aversion to secret 
methods : "I sincerely wish that it may never so hap 
pen that the invisibles govern the nation without a 
check. Last spring their power in the Treasury 

1 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., I., 185-186. 



248 NATHANIEL MACON, 

department [was manifest] . In conversation many 
declare independence of them, yet on a vote they 
never fail to have a majority. If they are to gov 
ern, it would be better that they governed according 
to the constitution, than in the way they do, another 
now stands between them and the people." 1 He 
refers here to the rising power of the bank and 
commercial men, as well as the Smith faction. 

Congress adjourned in good spirits but anxious 
enough on the subject of foreign intercourse to pro 
vide for reassembling, a week earlier than usual. 
Already the British envoy had shown signs of the 
sad dilemma into which Canning was inveigling the 
American Cabinet. In July the whole arrangement 
between Erskine and Madison which had brought 
such a peaceful and promising state of things dur 
ing the session just closing was annulled ; in August 
Erskine was openly disgraced and Madison issued 
a proclamation announcing that England had not 
revoked the Orders in Council and that trade with 
Great Britain was forbidden. Jackson was the next 
English envoy, but he soon got himself dismissed by 
grossly insulting .the Government and made a tour 
through New England where he was received with 
great enthusiasm and entertained as a public guest. 2 
France was equally overbearing. Napoleon at the 
very pinnacle of power was only too desirous to reap 
advantage from American trade and if possible 
embroil us in a war with England. 

It was a sad condition of things which the return 
ing Legislature had to meet in November, 1809 : 
American trading vessels were scattered over the 
whole world, their owners fearing capture or ready 
to accept en masse the protection of England ; East 
ern politicians were hotly demanding peace and their 

1 To Joseph H. Nicholson, June 23, 1809. 

2 See Hart s Formation of the Union, 201. 



MACON A NATIONAL CHARACTER. 249 

representatives in Congress, Quincy, Pitkin and 
Dana stood ready for any move their constituents 
demanded ; the Middle States were divided in senti 
ment, some following Duane s Aurora were clamor 
ing for immediate war, others were making love to 
New England politicians; the Southerners without 
a leader were subject to Randolph s caresses or abuse 
according to his whim. Helpless itself this Repub 
lican Congress was subject to a crossfire: first 
through the Senate by means of the Giles resolu 
tions commending the policy of the Executive, and 
second through the celebrated Macon bill, No. i, 
by way of the House. Giles engineered his meas 
ures through the Senate but in the House the Feder 
alists under the guidance of Quincy and others 
talked them to death, which led to the establishment 
by the House of its celebrated "rules" system. This 
was not the first time a minority had "talked" down 
a majority measure; but iron-clad rules to prevent 
this had until now looked too much like despotic 
suppression of free speech. 1 Macon was appointed 
chairman of the committee to draft rules. Macon 
had often deprecated the speech-making tendency of 
most members and he now recommended the "previ 
ous question" practice which was accepted and 
which at present spoils the plans of so many aspir 
ing young representatives. The main features of 
the "House rules" as they obtain to-day were put 
into use before the end of this session and* Macon 
was just the man to urge them. 

The Macon bill, No. I, was the second fire. The 
resolutions of November 17, 1808, and the bill fol 
lowing were Macon s first attempts at a solution of 
the complicated foreign problems of the Republican 
era. His first efforts had not been successful but 

1 Schouler, II., 325. 



250 NATHANIEL MACON. 

they received due attention from his party. Again 
in June, 1809, he had taken a leading share in the 
discussion of foreign complications and advocated 
that foreign war vessels be prohibited from enter 
ing American harbors. 1 December i, at the very 
beginning of the new session, he introduced resolu 
tions which he said embraced the ideas of Early, of 
Georgia, D. R. Williams, of South Carolina, Dana, 
of Connecticut, and himself, and which would alto 
gether constitute a system, a regular foreign policy. 
These resolutions looked to the complete exclusion 
of foreign war vesels from the ports of the United 
States and to the suppression of the illicit trade 
which foreign merchants were conducting under our 
flag. "I would put them out of the nation, and have 
no vessels belonging to the United States which are 
not perfectly American. I would have our vessels 
wholly American, or they shall not at all partake of 
the character of American vessels." 2 His resolu 
tions were referred to the committee of Commerce 
and Manufactures. But the President s message 3 
had made similar recommendations and so a select 
committee of the House was appointed to draw up 
a bill which should meet the demands of the occasion 
and at the same time satisfy the wishes of the Ad 
ministration and of the majority in Congress. 4 The 
letters above cited as well as many previous ones 
show Macon to have been on most intimate terms 
with Gallatin. Adams says in his life of Gallatin 
that the Secretary of the Treasury suggested the 
outline of the bill which their committee soon pre 
sented. This I have been unable to establish, but 
it is quite apparent from the few letters of Macon 

1 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., I., 1269; Schouler II., 325. 

2 Annals of Congress, iith Cong., I., 686- 87- 

3 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., III., 3, 13. 

4 Schouler, II., 326 



MACON A NATION AI, CHARACTER. 251 



which have been preserved that Gallatin, Madison 
and Macon all cooperated in drawing up the first 
Macon bill. The Secretary of State was scarcely 
equal to the undertaking and not popular enough in 
the House to be of much service to the President. 
Madison and Gallatin seem to have been the authors 
of the bill, yet Gallatin could not openly espouse it 
lest Shith s friends in the Senate defeat it. Macon 
was the choice of the Administration to father the 
bill in the House, and to further the plans of the 
Administration he was made Chairman of the Com 
mittee on Foreign Relations 1 as well as because of 
his great influence with Southern members ; Var- 
num, his successful rival for the speakership, was of 
course in sympathy with any plan the Executive 
might offer. 2 

Macon s bill contained the following provisions: 
The first, second and third items embodied Macon s 
own resolutions of the previous year; the fourth to 
the eighth articles prohibited the importation of Eng 
lish and French products except in vessels wholly 
manned by citizens of the United States, except 
such products come direct from England or France 
or their respective colonies. This was the princi 
ple of the ancient Navigation laws of England and 
it was designed to have the same effect on the war 
ring powers of Europe as their policies had had on 
America; the ninth to the twelfth clauses gave the 
President power to suspend these laws in favor of 
either England or France in case either should aban 
don its warlike policy towards American trade, and 
repealed the former Non-importation bill. 3 

The bill was read a second time and referred to 
the Committee of the Whole for Friday, January 5. 

Annals of Congress, nth Cong., I., 753. 

2 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., I., 1269 ; Schouler, II., 325. 
3 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., I., 754- 55 ; Schouler, II., 326. 



252 NATHANIEL MACON. 

But Giles bill had the attention of the House and 
the Federalists were carrying out the plan of talk 
ing down the Administration. It was not until the 
majority threatened to adopt and enforce the "pre 
vious question" rule, that is on Monday, January 
8, that the Macon bill could get a hearing. 

The wrangling over the Giles bill and the standing 
threat of the majority to adopt measures restrain 
ing everlasting speech prepared the way for a 
warmly partisan debate on the Macon bill. Liver- 
more from Massachusetts opposed it because it 
would have an injurious effect on American, not 
foreign, commerce, since it went too far in the way 
of restriction; and Sawyer, an erratic colleague of 
Macon, charged the Committee with tame sub 
mission to England, with asking no reparation for 
the Chesapeake affair, no release of our impressed 
seamen, no revocation of the Orders in Council. 
Such acquiescence on the part of America was not 
only debasing the people as a nation but every 
individual must be contemptible in his own eyes. 1 
Macon responded to both: "The gentleman from 
Massachusetts thinks the bill so strong that it will 
ruin us, by drawing upon us counterveiling acts; 
and my colleague thinks its weakness will only war 
rant further aggression on us." "The Committee," 
he continued, "was well aware of the situation in 
which they were placed. The Message of the 29th 
was pacific; it was acknowledged on all hands that 
non-intercourse was totally useless ; it was neces 
sary that something should be done; and the com 
mittee agreed to report this bill." The granting of 
letters of marque and reprisal as advocated by many 
he opposed as impracticable and against the senti 
ment of the House, citing the very small favor a 
measure of that kind had received a year before. 

* Annals of Congress, nth Cong., I., 1161. 



MACON A NATIONAL CHARACTER. 253 

He insisted that his bill was the most elastic possi 
ble admitting of being made stronger or weaker at 
the discretion of the President, that it sought to 
remove the burdens of our commerce from our 
shoulders to those of the English, that it deserved 
the support of the members if but for the repeal of 
the non-intercourse law. Sawyer had said the pro 
posed measure would not satisfy the public. Macon 
replied : "Whether the bill will satisfy the people or 
not I am totally ignorant. I can never tell what 
will satisfy the people I represent; all I can do is 
to act as I think right and depend on such conduct 
for their approbation. I am not for a declaration of 
war just now, and I take this opportunity of say 
ing so. The nation is not as much prepared now 
for war as it was last winter, or as it was when the 
Chesapeake was attacked/ 1 In his advocacy of the 
bill, Macon was willing to give the President dis 
cretionary powers in its execution, should it become 
a law, which he would under any other circum 
stances have denied. He had voted against such 
powers being given Washington in 1793 and Jef 
ferson in 1807. Macon spoke again and again in fa 
vor of the bill and was in general recognized as the 
mouthpiece of the Government. Ross, of Pennsylva 
nia, dealt in some condescending remarks about its 
supporters and not a few were constantly striving to 
make a sectional measure of Macon s bill, innocent 
as it was of any partisan designs. Macon made 
apology for rising again to this question, and begged 
the indulgence of the House. He spoke perhaps 
an hour: "Without referring to ^Esop or Grotius, it 
seems to me that common sense would in the present 
case decide our course. But the bill contains embargo 
prinicples, we are told these seem to be quite as 
much dreaded as the fatal submission which the bill 

^Annals of Congress, nth Cong., I., 1163. 



254 NATHANIEL MACON. 

contains. Yes, sir, I am an embargo man, and 
hesitate not to say, that the day Congress gave up 
the embargo for the non-intercourse, if there be sub 
mission, that day it began; if we wish war, either 
against England or France, or against both, instead 
of the non-intercourse act, we ought then to have 
made a declaration of war ; we had then our sailors, 
our property, and our vessels at home. I can not 
perceive the great wisdom, and undaunted courage, 
in these war speeches, when there is no war motion." 
Gold of New York had insinuated that Macon had 
attempted privately to win his support. Macon 
resented the charge : "I deny it as to myself ; I call 
upon no man for aid. The bill must stand or fall 
on its own merits. It has never been, nor ever will 
be my practice to be running about the city by day 
or by night, prowling after men, to support any 
measure I may propose; if right they ought to be 
adopted, if wrong they ought to be rejected. To 
have solicited the aid of the men who declare the 
bill to be submission, and that nothing but war will 
save the nation, would be, in my opinion, to have 
insulted them. Nor have I requested or demanded 
of them to come out as party men to support the bill. 
No, sir, I have never asked any man to yield his 
judgment to party. The same gentleman says the 
present discussion at the next election will put men 
who are for more energetic measures in Congress 
from the Eastern and Southern States. As to the 
people from the East, personally I know but little 
about them, having never been among them ; if, 
however, a judgment may be formed of them, from 
their members here, they will be found as tenacious 
of their opinions as most people are. Whatever may 
be the decision of those of the South, which I repre 
sent, it will be perfectly agreeable to me; but I am 



MACON A NATIONAL CHARACTER. 255 

yet to learn that the people in the East and in the 
South are more fickle than those of the Middle 
States." 

He then spoke of Southern conditions interspers 
ing a bit of shrewd sarcasm occasionally : "It is true 
that the people in the South do not make a practice 
to pass fiery resolutions, which in general mean 
nothing more than that the first mover of the meet 
ing and of the resolutions wants an office. On the 
day of election they pass on the conduct of their 
representatives and then tell them whether they 
have done well or not." His concluding words 
were: "Sir, it appears to me that the bill will pro 
mote the welfare and happiness of the nation by pre 
serving peace. It offers to Great Britain and France 
another proof of the sincerity of our desire to remain 
neutral and to settle our disputes with them in a 
friendly way. It justly places them on the same 
ground in relation to us. It is a measure which we 
can maintain because it promotes the interest of all 
and particularly the interest of those who might 
with the most facility evade its operation. The 
Orders and Decrees of Great Britain and France 
are certainly against their interests ; it will afford 
them time to reconsider them and I hope to with 
draw them ; and as no other system has been pro 
posed, either in the Committee of the Whole or in 
the House, I trust it will meet the approbation of the 
Legislature." 1 Macon s bill finally passed the House, 
73 to 52, on January 29. 2 

The bill was introduced into the Senate January 
30, and next day it was read a second time and con 
signed to the tender mercies of Senator Smith as 
chairman of a select committee for its considera- 

1 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., II., i283- 84. 

2 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., II., 1354. 



256 NATHANIEL MACON. 

tion. Smith was at the head of the anti-Gallatin 
clique and, suspecting that Madison had drawn the 
bill according to Gallatin s suggestions, thus ignor 
ing his incompetent Secretary of State, Robert 
Smith, this intensely jealous faction first delayed, 
then amended, and finally passed the bill with every 
clause removed, except those repealing the non- 
intercourse. 1 This emasculated bill was then re 
turned to the House where Macon and his friends 
urged entire rejection, or the passage of the origi 
nal measure. A conference of both Houses took 
place with the result that no agreement could be 
obtained, and so all the efforts of the Administration 
came to naught. 2 This was March 31, 1810. 

The policy outlined in Macon s plan was a good 
one, and, as Schouler says, it would very likely have 
solved the problems of neutral commerce as they 
were in 1808 instead of 1810. Macon was indig 
nant at the action of the Senate and of many mem 
bers of the House. Numerous letters, he said, 
were coming to him daily urging the passage of his 
bill, the state of the public mind was unsettled, gamb 
lers were taking advantage of the fluctuating prices. 
In fact the country was becoming disgusted at this 
wrangling, useless Congress dominated by cliques 
and extravagant partisans. 3 

The sole cause of this failure of three months 
continuous effort on Macon s part, supported, too, 
by the whole weight of the Administration, was the 
determination on the part of the Smith family to 
drive Gallatin from the Cabinet. Giles, of Vir 
ginia, Leib, of Pennsylvania, and Duane, of the 
Aurora, joined the opponents of the Secretary of the 

i Annals of Congress, nth Cong., L, 550-577; Adams Gallatin, 416; 
Schouler, II., 328. 

= Annals]of Congress, nth Cong., I., 1559, 1635, 1701. 
3 Annals ot Congress, nth Cong., I., i635- 36. 



MACON A NATIONAL CHARACTER. 257 

Treasury ; the influence of Duane s paper was given 
entirely to the great Maryland family. Macon was 
an open advocate of Gallatin for the presidency. 
To kill Macon s bill, they argued, was to undo the 
plan of Gallatin, which, if successful, would bring 
him again to the forefront in Washington. Giles 
was perhaps a little jealous, too, on his own score at 
the national prominence which Macon s bill obtained 
while his own attracted no general or extended 
attention. While the Macon bill was dying "between 
the Houses" the Senate was trying to revive the 
old convoy policy of 1798. Resolutions looking to 
sending out armed convoys with trading vessels 
bound for European ports were introduced on 
the same day Macon s bill was brought in ; and 
again a week later these resolutions were sub 
mitted to the committee on Foreign Relations in 
order that a bill might be prepared. 1 

On the day when Macon s bill finally came to 
naught, Randolph suddenly appeared in the House 
and introduced a resolution calling for immediate 
repeal of the non-intercourse laws. He took this 
occasion to review again the whole policy of em 
bargo and non-intercourse, 2 and so wrought upon 
the House as to make a return to the Gallatin sys 
tem still revolving in Macon s methodical brain 
impossible. Macon was not a little annoyed at 
Randolph though he was not himself very hopeful 
of any satisfactory solution of the problems with 
which he had been so long wrestling. He wrote 
Nicholson, April 3 : "By the papers you will see 
that we are debating a motion by Randolph to repeal 
the non-intercourse law. This motion is hardly 
worth the time that has already been consumed, 

1 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., I., 550, 587. 

2 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., II., 1702. 

17 



258 NATHANIEL MACON. 

and I apprehend we shall hardly decide it to-day. 
Among many members there is a desire to do some 
thing, by which is meant to pass some act, which 
shall operate on both the belligerents. But I have 
not discovered any system except that which has 
been lost between the two Houses, which would not 
also operate very strongly on us. An embargo, 
could it be carried, is the only measure which would 
bring G. Britain to terms. There is no chance for 
that, and that would probably have more effect on 
France than any other measure." 1 

On Saturday, April 7, Macon introduced bill No. 

\2 on the subject of foreign intercourse. This was 
> : called "Macon s bill No. 2." It abandoned the 
policy of retaliation on Great Britain of bill No. I, 
provided for the repeal of non-intercourse at the 
end of the session and concluded by authorizing the 
President to revive non-importation against either 
England or France in case either of those powers 
should abandon its present policy, that is, he should 

i say to the two great powers of Europe : "We have 
done forever with non-intercourse measures towards 
both of you ; but if one of you will cease capturing 
and confiscating our trading vessels, we will immedi 
ately return to our non-intercourse with the other."- 
Macon reported this bill from the committee which 
still acted for the Administration, though it was 
helpless before the treacherous Smith clique in Con 
gress. Macon was in no way enthusiastic over his 
second bill, and he wrote as much to his friend : "I 
am at a loss to guess what we shall do on the sub 
ject of foreign relations. The bill in the enclosed 
paper called Macon s No. 2 is not really Macon s, 
though he reported it as namesake. It is in truth 

1 Macon to Nicholson, April 3, 1810. 

2 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., II., 1763. 



MACON A NATIONAL, CHARACTER. 259 

Taylor s (of S. C.). This I only mention to you, 
because, when it comes to be debated I shall not 
act the part of a father or a step-father. Burwell 
and Eppes still talk about their convoy, each pro 
fessing his own convoy. The Ways and Means 
and the bank will make some warm talk, I expect." 1 

Macon did not "father" the bill. It passed after 
much angry debate and an attempt at turning the 
main issue to protection for domestic manufactures 
by Johnson of Kentucky. Bill No. 2 received the 
approval of the House by a vote of 61 to 40. 
Macon wrote on April 21 concerning the part he 
took in its passage : "We have passed and sent to the 
Senate the 2nd bill reported by me, with an amend 
ment proposed by Johnson of Kentucky to lay 50 
per cent on the duties now payable on French and 
English goods, but which new duties are to cease 
when the Decrees and Orders of G. B. and France 
are withdrawn which is to be notified by proclama 
tion of the President when either or both shall with 
draw their edicts. 

"This plan is said to be a Cabinet project. If so 
it satisfies me that the Cabinet is hard pushed for 
a plan, but it may have been taken to prevent a 
worse or to prevent the continuance of the present 
non-intercourse system. Some who opposed No. i 
wished it had become a law. I mean feds. I am 
almost apprehensive that the invisibles may be at 
the bottom of this amendment before mentioned 
(Johnson s) with a view to injure Gallatin. They 
may if they can ascertain its fate in the Senate by 
indirect means and before a vote is taken, take the 
side which may best answer their purpose. If it 
will not pass they may (if it be a Cabinet measure) 
support it to show their zeal for the Administration, 

1 Macon to Nicholson, April 10, 1810. 



260 NATHANIEL MACON. 

and if it will pass wthout their aid, they may oppose 
it to show that G. neither understands how to get 
money in the Treasury by new taxes, nor how to 
encourage manufactures. He, G., I am afraid, is 
not enough on his guard as to these people. I have 
shown this to Randolph. I write while Love is 
speaking on the Bank." 1 

Johnson s amendment referred to in the letter 
just cited was incorporated into the Macon bill No. 
2. in the House but was stricken out in the Senate 
in favor of a second amendment granting public 
convoys to private merchant ships. A conference 
of both Houses resulted in the loss of this second 
amendment and the original bill became a law late 
Saturday evening, the last day of the session, May 
i, i8io. 2 

But Macon had not only ceased to advocate his 
bill, he actually voted against its final passage. 3 So 
far had things drifted and changed since December. 
In fact, the measure expressed no one s policy. 
It was simply a feeble assertion of authority on the 
part of the President who exercised no authority 
a plan which forestalled Randolph s repeal of the 
non-intercourse law then in force, which on its 
very surface showed that the Senate held the reins 
of power if there were any reins at that chaotic time. 

The reason Macon refused to support the meas 
ure which bore his name was that Johnson s protec 
tive clause had been tacked on. These ideas which 
Lyon ! had advocated some months before and which 
Macon deprecated so much had been taken up by 
another Kentuckian, a powerful and popular man, 
and nearly carried. Macon did not think the amend- 

1 Macon to Nicholson, April 21, 1810. 

2 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., I., 678. 

3 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., II., 1931. 



MACON A NATIONAL CHARACTER. 261 

ment of itself so dangerous. It was the political 
opinion which it manifested. This opinion, too, 
was spreading. The New England, Pennsylvania, 
New Jersey, Kentucky, and even some Virginia Re 
publicans, said he, were "full of manufacturing." 1 

April 14, Eppes, from the committee on Ways 
and Means, presented the estimates for the expenses 
of the coming year. In this estimate it was shown 
that an increase of $3,000,000 in the annual income 
would be required, or that a reduction in the expen 
diture must be made. Gallatin recommended either 
a reduction in the army and navy establishments, or 
an increased duty of 5 per cent on all ad valorem, 
and 33 1-3 per cent on all specific imports, his pref 
erence being the latter method. Eppes submitted a 
clear and open statement of fiscal conditions and 
moved that the additional duty be laid. 2 No better 
showing could have been expected under the cir 
cumstances and no more reasonable demands were 
ever made on the representatives. Yet Randolph 
burst forth again in a lengthy tirade against the 
Jefferson regime contrasting, as he claimed, sharply 
with the economical administrations of Washington 
and Adams. Macon would not admit Randolph s 
claims for the Federalists to be true, yet 
opposed the increased tariff proposition : " I 
am at a loss to understand this bill. I do not 
know whether it is meant to encourage manufac 
tures or for what other object we are asked to raise 
this money." The point on which he was most 
sensitive and on which his opinion was made up 
was that of "encouraging manufactures." "If you 

1 Macon to Nicholson, April 21, 1810. 

2 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., II., 



262 NATHANIEL MACON. 

want money, I am ready to agree that you can not 
get it by internal taxes ; but rather than saddle those 
whom I represent with a tax to encourage manufac 
tures, if that be the object, I would vote for a direct 
tax. What does this system lead to ? To this : that 
you will go on by tax on tax until you manufacture 
within the limits of the United States everything that 
can there be raised for the purpose of manufactur 
ing. This may be a good thing to the part of the 
country which will be the manufacturing part. They 
may laugh and sing ; but to that part that will never 
manufacture it will be death. The latter may wring 
their hands and cry, but in vain; for once but get 
the manufacturing mania fixed on the nation and we 
shall be saddled with it as long as the nation exists. 
I can state an opinion that I entertain, which may 
by many be thought not to be correct. It is this: 
that precisely as you encourage this manufacturing 
spirit, in the same ratio will you depress all the 
domestic manufactures of the country I live in. Sir, 
I voted for the embargo to avoid war, under the 
belief that if we adhered to it we should settle our 
disputes with one of the belligerents, but never 
meant by it to encourage manufactures. As to the 
non-intercourse laws, as I never voted for them, 
I do not know on what principle they were voted 
for." 

His solution of the difficulty is given in the fol 
lowing: "As it appears to me, sir, that the question 
is pretty well settled that we do not mean to take 
any very energetic measures at the present session 
of Congress, what use is there in keeping up the 
navy and that skeleton of an army? Can any man 
tell me the use of them unless they are expressly for 
the purpose of spending money?" He then goes 
on to show the uselessness of both establishments, 



MACON A NATIONAL CHARACTER. 263 

especially of the navy, concluding: "Reduce the 
Army and Navy and let us be told what money is 
wanting and I will vote a loan to that amount. But 
vote first to raise money and afterwards to reduce 
it is what I will not do. If we want money it ought 
to be gotten in the way most convenient to the 
people ; and it would seem as if, when we once lay a 
tax, it is impossible to get it off again. I recollect 
when the two and a half per cent duty (commonly 
entitled the Mediterranean fund) was laid it was 
stated that we would scarcely ever get it off again ; 
and it has been kept on so far, though the original 
cause of it has ceased. 1 

A proposition for the reduction of the army and 
navy gained the precedence over Eppes tariff bill. 
Macon moved an amendment to the proposition 
which called for disbanding the entire army. A 
miserable feud which arose out of the Wilkinson 
controversy had actually spread through all ranks 
of the organization, and, because of this, Macon 
desired the complete demolition of that branch of 
the public service instead of a reduction which he 
assented to in the case of the navy. 2 But enmity 
to both was deep rooted in his mind. He had 
inherited from his ancestors, political and other 
wise of the seventeenth century, a hatred for all 
standing armies and permanent navies and a special 
liking for defense alone in times of war. This radi 
cal disposition to disband our defensive forces in 
the very face of foreign complication, coupled with 
the many complaints against Wilkinson, had already 
set in motion an investigation of the affairs of the 
army, and General Wilkinson was called on to 
submit a large number of papers bearing on the 

1 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., II., 1847 

2 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., II., 1863. 



264 NATHANIEL MACON. 

conduct of the army since the Burr conspiracy of 
1805 and k o6. The papers had mysteriously disap 
peared and unfortunately for the army and the 
country the business was not cleared up. The army 
was not disbanded as perhaps would have been 
best, and the navy was not reduced ; Macon s attack 
took the form later of a resolution to sell most of 
the war vessels and trust to buying and arming 
merchantmen in case of war. In fact Macon was 
in bad spirits with every thing toward the end of 
the session, as a private letter shows : "The House 
is engaged on the bill to reduce the naval establish 
ment and have begun to take yeas and nays. It is 
quite probable that all the attempts to reduce expen 
diture at this session will prove abortive. It is pos 
sible it may tend to make some of the public func 
tionaries a little more attentive to economy. The 
speeches on the floor may produce this effect. All 
agree that the expenditure in the navy department 
ought to be checked and yet it will not be I fear. 
Hamilton (Paul Hamilton of S. C.) I believe is hon 
est and determined, but the abuses have got such 
strong hold that it may be questioned whether he 
has power to tear them up by the roots. It is also 
doubtful whether the army will be reduced. Diffi 
cult as it may be thought to get an expensive estab 
lishment fixed on a free nation, it is certainly more 
difficult to get clear of one when it is fixed. These 
establishments generally make convenient places 
for the governmental connections and their more 
obliging friends and cruel is the task which upright 
ness imposes to take these snug places from those 
that may be dear and necessary to the rulers. 

"The times have changed; the navy is now a 
Republican institution and must be supported on 
loans. Who of those who loves one but must delight 



MACON A NATIONAL CHARACTER. 265 

in the other. And with these the admirer must 
embrace executive discretion which, contrary to gen 
eral laws of nature, grows more lovely and comely 
the more it is used and the older it grows. It is 
not strange when the quality of their discretion is 
known, that those who some years past spoke of it 
as being more deformed and ugly than Cyclops, 
should now think it more comely than Venus and 
more to be admired than Christian faith or pure 
Gold. Nay, had Solomon lived in this day he would 
have acknowledged that a Navy was more to be 
coveted than true wisdom ; and if Solomon had not 
have been a man of peace how eloquently could he 
have portrayed the great advantages of a well- 
dressed standing army to preserve national liberty 
over the ragged militia of the nation itself, nay 
how easy could he have proved the people to be 
their own worst enemies." 1 

While the Macon bill No. I was in the hands of 
the anti-Gallatin clique, Gardenier, a Federalist of 
New York, read before the House an article from 
the Virginia Argus, signed Camillus, which con 
tained charges of misappropriation of public 
money, of speculating in United States securities 
and in public lands. Gardenier was one of the most 
influential members of the opposition in Congress. 
He turned this reading of anonymous charges in 
an insignificant newspaper into serious resolutions, 
demanding that Gallatin s administration of the 
Treasury be investigated. This was the work of 
the Smiths and it was intended to force their enemy 
in the cabinet to resign. Ross of Pennsylvania gave 
voice to the disgust of many others at the mean fight 
the Smiths were making against the Secretary of 
the Treasury. He said: "While his (Gallatin s) 

1 Macon to Nicholson, April 28, 1810. 



266 NATHANIEL MACON. 

political enemies are so careful of his reputation, 
why are they not equally careful of the reputation 
of the Secretary of State, who was equally abused 
by the writer under the signature of Philolaos or 
Mutius?" Inquiry in the one place demanded in 
quiry in the other, he said. 1 Macon was willing 
for the investigation to be ordered. "If the Secre 
tary of the Treasury were my own brother, if he 
were my father, and an inquiry was asked into his 
conduct, I would grant it. Seventeen members 
-out of the one hundred and twenty-three voted for 
the Gardenier resolutions, among them Richard 
Stanford and Nathaniel Macon. The Smith move 
in the House was a failure, as was also their attempt 
in the following summer to ruin Gallatin in Mary 
land. 2 

^ The effect of the second Macon bill was that 
France removed its Decrees in August, this to take 
effect November i. According to the terms of our 
law this concession on the part of Napoleon com 
pelled the President to proclaim non-importation 
against England. England paid no attention to the 
Macon law and treated with contempt all remon 
strances of our representatives against the sham 
blockade of Europe and against the impressment of 
seamen. Madison revived non-importation against 
England in November. Still England gave no 
assurance that any change of policy might be ex 
pected. 

Congress reassembled for its final session Decem 
ber 3. The President could give no encouraging 
picture of foreign affairs. England s silence com 
pelled Congress to sit still until February, the date 
when the revived non-importation act would go into 

1 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., 1414-1421. 

2 Schouler, II., 328. 



MACON A NATIONAL CHARACTER. 267 

effect. There would then remain only one month 
more in which to formulate a policy and enact laws 
accordingly. Hence there was little chance of any 
decisive measure on foreign intercourse being taken 
by the Eleventh Congress. In default of anything 
to do along the lines of the last session s legislation, 
Congress took up seriously the great bank question, 
the admission of Orleans territory as a State, and 
other domestic matters. 

In the assignments to committees at the begin 
ning of the session Macon had not been placed on 
the committee on Foreign Relations, but he was 
given a place on the committee to consider the estab- / 
lishment of a National University at Washington, 
a pet scheme, it will be remembered, both of Wash 
ington and Madison. Macon was not then so im 
portant a character as he had been, yet he was one of 
the foremost leaders of the Administration party in 
the House. 1 Nothing came of the National Univer 
sity, as was to be expected. 

The charter of the United States bank as estab 
lished in 1791 was about to expire. Gallatin, origi 
nally a strong opponent of Hamilton s bank and 
other policies, was now ready to advocate a new 
charter. The cause of his change of opinion need 
not interest us here except to say that perhaps the 
growing power of the Smith influence, which 
enjoyed now, in addition to the unqualified support 
of Duane s paper, the support of the Richmond 
Enquirer, one of the most potent powers in the 
Republican party, had made him look about for 
active adherents. Gallatin outlined a plan for the 
new bank and had it soon brought before Congress. 
A similar proposition had occupied the attention of 
the House during the past session, but it had been 

i Schouler, II., 352. 



268 NATHANIEL MACON. 

forced to yield to the sterner demands of foreign 
complications. It was now to become the great 
question not only before the National legislature but 
before the whole country. The new charter asked 
for a capital stock of three million dollars, of which 
the States might take half the stock ; it promised to 
establish branch banks in each State, with the 
allowance of a certain number of State directors; 
and also agreed to give the United States govern 
ment a bonus of one million two hundred and fifty 
thousand dollars, to pay interest on United States 
deposits, and to loan the nation three-fifths of its 
capital at six per cent interest, or under. 1 The 
strict constructionists feared such a monster insti 
tution ; the Southern planters were astounded that 
any institution could pay such an enormous bonus 
simply for the privilege of driving an honest busi 
ness. Macon cried out constantly against the re- 
charter ; he never ceased to declaim against the 
bank from this time until its final overthrow by 
Jackson. His admiration for Gallatin waned. But 
he made no set speech against the bank. A letter 
of January 17, 1811, shows something of his feel 
ings : "Yesterday and to-day the House has been 
engaged on the bill to renew the charter of the U. 
S. bank. The bill will not, I imagine, pass. It is 
reported that it has fewer friends than at the last 
session. The present friends to a National bank 
may be divided into four classes: (i) For the re 
newal of the charter with some modification ; (2) 
for a new bank; (3) establish a National bank at the 
next or some future session ; (4) use the State banks 
and their paper. All these are considered as hav 
ing no constitutional objections." 2 Macon s objec- 

1 Schouler, II., 350. 

2 Macon to Nicholson, January 17, 1811. 



MACON A NATIONAL CHARACTER. 269 

tion to the bank was on constitutional as well as 
partisan grounds; his was not a banking state and 
his people were simple farmers whom he himself 
had trained for twenty years to distrust any and 
all additions to the powers of the National govern 
ment. 

The re-charter bill was lost on a narrower margin 
than he had thought. The final vote in the House 
stood 63 for, 64 against ; and in the Senate a sepa 
rate bill for the same purpose was lost by Vice- 
President Clinton s vote. 1 Macon did not control 
the vote of his State. Willis Alston, Jr., Archi 
bald McBryde, Joseph Pearson, Richard Stanford 
and John Stanly, all of North Carolina, voted favor 
ably to the bank. 

Early in the session Macon introduced a resolu 
tion for amending the United States Constitution 
as follows: "Resolved, that no Senator or Repre 
sentative, after having taken his seat, shall, during 
the time for which he was elected, be eligible to 
any civil appointment under the authority of the 
United States, nor shall any person be eligible to 
any such appointment until the expiration of the 
Presidental term, during which such person shall 
have been a Senator or Representative." 2 This 
proposed amendment of his was the outcome of 
long fixed opinion on the subject. Opinion in 
North Carolina at that time was almost a unit with 
him, and his letters before this time gave expres 
sion to much of his disgust at the nepotism growing 
up around the presidency and the great departmental 
offices. His plan was clear enough and wise enough 
but it never realized. It might find no easy 
road through Congress to-day, if we may judge by 

1 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., III., 826. 

2 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., III., 386. 



270 NATHANIEL MACON. 

the appointments of a recent administration. He 
made several speeches in behalf of his plan ; in these 
he does not appear to disadvantage to all those who 
love purity in politics and unselfish devotion to the 
public good. 1 

At this same session Macon became a powerful 
advocate of the embryo policy of Southern expan 
sion to meet Eastern aggression. We have seen 
how he advised Jefferson in 1803 to purchase Flor 
ida on any reasonable terms. The purchase of 
Louisiana was in entire accord with his ideas of 
wise policy. But Louisiana had not been bought 
without a protest from Eastern members. Now 
when Orleans begins to knock at the doors of Con 
gress for admittance as a "free and independent 
republic," as Macon was fond of saying, the forces 
of Federalism rallied a last time under the leader 
ship of the brilliant declaimer, Josiah Ouincy. 
They asserted that the Constitution would not allow 
new States to be carved out of the purchased terri 
tory west of the Mississippi, that only states within 
the bounds of the old Northwest territory could ever 
hope to enter the Union. 2 Macon had no patience 
with such distinctions. He declared that "the 
right of creating States out of acquired territory" 
was one which he had always contended for; and 
it had been stated by at least one of those who had 
formed the Constitution, that this article had refer 
ence to Canada. "New states may be admitted by 
Congress into the Union. At the time this provis 
ion was made, Florida and Louisiana were not 
thought of. Canada was the territory kept in view." 3 
Quincy expressed the view of his section when he 

1 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., III., 454 - 55. 

2 Annals of Congress nth Cong., III., January ; see Josiah Quincy and 
others. 

3 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., III., i8io- n. 



MACON A NATIONAL, CHARACTER. 271 

vehemently declared: "If this bill passes it is my 
deliberate opinion that it is virtually a dissolution 
of this Union ; that it will free the states from their 
moral obligation and as it will be the right of all, 
so it will be the duty of some definitely to prepare 
for a separation, amicably if they can, violently if 
they must." 1 The question in the angry dispute on 
the first attempt to create a state out of the territory 
beyond the Mississippi was not one of constitution 
ality so much as one of interest. Going beyond the 
great river meant an almost illimitable expansion of 
the South. The South was agricultural, rural; 
New England commercial, urban in character; 
the former dependent on plenteous slave labor, the 
latter on an active, bustling, free life and competi 
tion. By the compromises of the Constitution the 
South had a larger representation on account of the 
negroes than a similar free population of the North. 
So far in the history of the Union the balance of 
power had been held by the Middle States. These 
w r ere now beginning to ally themselves with New 
England (protective tariff policy above referred to) 
which would bring the South as it then was into 
a helpless minority and the East would rule. Since 
1803 the South had been expanding toward the 
Southwest. It was now about to reap permanent 
reward from this expansion. This was not to be 
allowed. To gain some voters in the Middle States 
the cry was raised against the monster iniquity of 
the South slavery. It was, however, the old ques 
tion of dollars and cents which has decided so many 
of the great issues recorded in human history. 
Macon demanded admission for his new State be 
cause of the advantage it would give his party in 
Congress. Quincy threatened to secede should the 

1 Annals of Congress, nth Cong., III., 526. 



272 NATHANIEL MACON. 

new State come into the Union because of the com 
parative loss his party would sustain. 

The subject was postponed till the next session 
and Congress came to an end again without having 
done anything but wrangle and draw salaries. Many 
old members returned home on that fourth o f 
March never again to occupy a seat in the National 
Legislature. The next elections fulfilled a proph 
ecy made on the floor of the House at the pre 
vious session, that the people were going to send 
more aggressive, more progressive men to Congress 
next time. It was the yielding of the old Revolu 
tionary statesmen and politicians to the rising influ 
ence and power of young America the first stage of 
the revolution of 1828. But Macon was not super 
seded. He went home still sure of his place in the 
affections of his constituents better constituents 
from his point of view than those of whom Ran 
dolph boasted so often and so loudly. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

REVOLUTION IN CONGRESS AND THE WAR OF l8l2. 

Before the assembling of Congerssjn 1811, Macon 
noted a significant change in the Administration, a 
change which would have made his bill No. I a suc 
cess. It was the appointment of Monroe as Secretary 
of State. Macon had for a short time in 1806 favored 
Randolph s plan of making Monroe, instead of Mad 
ison, President. He seems to have been slightly 
opposed to Monroe in 1811 ; he wrote Nicholson in 
April : "Can you tell me how the change in the De 
partment of State came about. The office of State 
seems to be the path to the Presidency, and the mis 
sion to Russia a sort of political death bed, notwith 
standing J. Q. A. has been made a Judge. The his 
tory of the transaction I should like to know. * : 
By the by, it seems to me that Monroe will be hard 
pressed with British negotiations on account of the 
treaty he made which Mr. J. would not lay before 
the Senate." 

Madison had at last resolved to rid his cabinet of 
its intriguing members. He flattered Virginia and 
at the same time delighted the West by appointing 
Monroe to the Department of State. It was mak 
ing an end also of the political schisms in the Re 
publican ranks. It completed the isolation of Ran 
dolph and his little group of followers, of whom 
Richard Stanford, of North Carolina, was a typical 
member. 

When Congress assembled a month earlier than 
usual, with the special purpose of settling the quar 
rel with England, it was plain to any one that a revo 
lution had taken place. The time had passed for 
18 



274 NATHANIEL MACON. 

Macon and Randolph and other old leaders to take 
the* direction of affairs into their hands. Macon 
and the peace Republicans had been given a fair 
opportunity at the last session to settle the great 
problems before the Nation. On account of factions 
in their own ranks, more especially in the Cabinet, 
nothing had been accomplished. Congress had 
"made great haste," as Macon himself said, "to do 
nothing." Six long months had been spent in do 
ing nothing in this way, and the country was sick 
and tired of speeches ; and not a few saw the cause 
of it all in the President s lack of decision. Madison 
was not popular during the summer of 1811. But 
the revolution had now come. The new members 
from the West and South were the products ; Clay, 
tired of the slow-going Senate, where he was, in 
deed, out of place, entered the House, and on the 
same day was made Speaker. Calhoun, Grundy, 
Lowndes and Cheves were the other young South 
erners who, violating at the very beginning the cus 
toms of the House, pushed forward so strongly as 
to get tilings into their hands within a month s time. 
It was young America, conscious of its rising im 
portance and ready for a conflict, even without 
arms, \vith any nation that refused to recognize its 
rights and privileges as "a free and independent 
power." 

What would Macon, the conservative, cautious, 
experienced politician do under these new condi 
tions? And how would North. Carolina view the 
change? are questions we naturally ask ourselves. 
Macon had already concluded to vote for war, 
though he more than ever dreaded its consequences. 
As for the North Carolinians, they were hopelessly 
divided. The dissatisfaction with Madison and the 
failure of the Macon bills at the last session had not 



REVOLUTION IN CONGRESS. 275 

been without effect on the party politics of that State. 
New Bern and the surrounding country sent Judge 
Gaston, a Federalist, to the House; the Salisbury 
district, never slow to yield to the embraces of the 
same party, sent Joseph Pearson back after an ab 
sence of ten years ; Archibald McBryde, of Fayette- 
ville, was another Federalist ; and Willis Alston, of 
Halifax, voted as often with one party as the other ; 
the dissipated and somewhat uncertain Lemuel 
Sawyer, from the Edenton section, went entirely 
over to the Federalists; and Richard Stanford had 
long since become the counterpart of Randolph, and 
with Randolph voted favorably to the interests of 
England, because, forsooth, the English gentleman 
was to him the most perfect type of the human 
species. Macon, Meshack Franklin, from Surry,\ 
and William R. King, a talented new member from 
Sampson, were almost alone in their support of 
Administration measures and of ancient Republican 
manners. North Carolina was, in fact, becoming 
doubtful territory again, and the Democrats were 
casting about to find a way to "save the State." 
Some were proposing the appointment of Presiden 
tial electors by the Legislature, instead of by popular 
vote, in order to prevent the districts of New Bern, 
Fayetteville and Salisbury from giving ttfeir votes 
to the opponents of Madison. But the plan was 
not yet matured. 1 

When Porter, of New York, reported for the 
committee on Foreign Relations that all hopes for 
a peaceful settlement of the quarrel with Great Brit 
ain must be given up, that the army should at once 
be increased to 13,000 men, that 50,000 volunteers 
should be called for, that the State militias should 
be put in readiness, and that the navy should be 

i Annals of Congress, rath Cong., I., 836. 



276 NATHANIEL, MACON. 

equipped for service and merchant vessels allowed to 
arm themselves, Macon joined heartily in these 
measures of the younger party leaders. Warlike 
speeches were made on every hand, and Macon, 
"peace" man that he had always been, declared that 
the time for war had come. Still his super-cautious 
nature impelled him to insist on the most open and 
accurate statements from the Administration as to 
the number of troops for the national service. 
Where the States commanded the troops he asked 
no questions. Grundy, of Tennessee, Lowndes, 
Calhoun, and all the new members from the South, 
were clamorous for the adoption of the Porter reso 
lutions looking to war. Randolph employed all his 
wit and sarcasm to defeat them. Richard Stan 
ford, of North Carolina, made a strong speech 
against war and the proposed invasion of Canada, 
to which William R. King replied: "Sir, the demon 
avarice, which benumbs every warm emotion of the 
soul, has not yet gained the ascendency in the 
South. * * * Our country is agricultural, but 
so intimately blended with commerce that one can 
not long exist unaided by the other. Sir, I will not 
yield an inch of ground when, by so doing, I destroy 
an essential right of my country or sap the foun 
dation of that independence cemented by the blood 
of our fathers. We were told by a gentleman from 
Virginia (Randolph), a few days since, that we 
have sufficient cause for war. I ask you, then, why 
do we hesitate ? Shall we always yield ? The adop 
tion of this resolution is the touchstone by it we 
rise or fall." 2 King concluded by denouncing the 
policy of his colleagues, who still advocated com 
promise and peace. This bold language which 
called on the commercial sections of the country to 

i Annals of Congress, i2th Cong., I., 517-518 



REVOLUTION IN CONGRESS. 277 

join the agricultural South in an aggressive war 
against England was new to the Republicans. _ It 
was the language of buoyant young America, which 
could no longer be restrained by the bonds of 
party. 

In a second speech on the Porter resolutions, Ma- 
con appeared to no advantage, favoring war and yet 
opposing the Government s plan for increasing the 
army. His immovable confidence in militia arma 
ments, not the fear of the unpopularity of voting a 
tax, explains his speech; for every member of the 
House seems to have entertained the greatest re 
spect for his character. Men went out of their way 
to pay him deference as a man and patriot, though 
not so often now as a political leader. 

Early in the session, Gallatin made a report to 
Congress which encouraged the "war hawks" to 
assume a still more defiant attitude toward Great 
Britain. The Secretary had practically assured the 
legislature that he could meet the expense of war, 
even without laying an additional tax. The com 
mittee on Foreign Relations and Cheves committee 
on Naval Affairs, both supported by Clay s anima 
ting and fiery eloquence, reported still more aggres 
sive plans than they had at first been willing to risk. 
And while Gallatin was reasoning with the House 
in order to prevent the over-stepping of the bounds 
of his estimates, the Republican governors and legis 
latures throughout the country began to send in 
their resolutions of applause and assurance of hearty 
support ; the militia of the South and Southwest was 
volunteering. Madison was like to lose his head, 
as John Adams had done in 1798. The Federalists, 
as a party, stood somewhat aloof until the large ap 
propriations for the army and navy came up, when 
they voted consistently enough with the majority. 



278 NATHANIEL MACON. 

These institutions had always been their pets. Per 
chance a way of escape from war might be found, 
and then woe to the party which had built up these 
branches of the public service. 

This was not to come. On March n, when the 
Gallatin explanations of his former over-sanguine 
estimates were exasperating the House, Madison 
sent to Congress a batch of papers which proved to 
be the beginning of the end of the Federalist party. 
These were a series of letters to and from an Eng 
lish agent in New England, John Henry by name. 
The papers had been purchased from Henry at a cost 
of $50,000. Henry had been sent to Massachusetts 
by Sir James Craig, Governor of Canada, to pro 
mote secession from the Union by the New England 
States in 1809, when embargo was bearing so 
heavily upon that section. The mission of Henry 
was not without a cause. The Legislature of Mas 
sachusetts was ready to call a Congress of Eastern 
States to consider the subject of secession. Quincy, 
it will be remembered, had deliberately advocated 
separation of the New England States from the 
Union. Henry had reported to his government 
that Eastern politicians favored secession, but that 
it was doubtful whether they would take the final 
step except as a last resort against Jefferson s em 
bargo. No names had been given in the Henry 
reports, and the closest investigations revealed no 
traitorous relations to have been established so far 
as the Federalists were concerned. At least at that 
time no prominent Federalist was found to be 
guilty of overt acts. The reception given the dis 
credited English Minister, Jackson, in 1807, in New 
England, already referred to, pointed out clearly 
enough the road New England leaders would have 
taken had the way been open. John Quincy Adams 



REVOLUTION IN CONGRESS. 279 

in his history of New England Federalism, says 
that not only neutrality in the event of war, but 
actual support of the English, was the aim of many, 
chief among whom was good Timothy Pickering. 
That disgruntled member of the Adams Cabinet had 
suggested Henry s mission. 1 And it is more than 
probable that Josiah Quincy, while a leader in Con 
gress, was suggesting to the English Minister how 
to bring America to terms. 

The papers served to let the world know what 
England was doing in time of peace, and what Mas 
sachusetts might do in the event of war. Congress 
was excited; animated debates followed, and the 
eyes of the whole country were turned toward Bos- 
tori, this time with strong distrust. 

Macon, always a staunch partisan, refrained in a 
short speech on referring the papers to the commit 
tee on Foreign Relations, from going further than 
to rebuke the Federalists who were trying to laugh 
down the whole proceedings, and declaring that 
both England and France were accustomed to main 
tain spies in America. He concluded : "Our affairs 
are in such a state that we must try what has been 
called the last resort of kings. I have made up my 
mind on the subject, and whenever we are ready to 
declare war, I shall vote for it." 2 

Macon was early given the opportunity of casting 
such a vote. After a session of preparatory meas 
ures, and the passage of a sixty days embargo, the 
plan of a special mission to England, with Bayard 
as its chief, was proposed. This was to be another 
last resort at settling our difficulties. This embargo 
was calculated to give support to the American en 
voys; but Madison, with public sentiment strongly 

1 Schouler, II., 384. 

2 Annals of Congress, i2th Cong., II., 1191. 



280 NATHANIEL MACON. 

in favor of hostilities, gave the peace proposition 
scant consideration. June 4, the House passed a 
bill declaring war, and Macon gave it his hearty sup 
port. North Carolina s delegation was divided, 
however, owing to the recent gains of the Federalists 
in that State. Joseph Pearson, Archibald McBryde 
and Richard Stanford, two Federalists and one Dem- 
crat, voted against war. The Senate, on June 18, 
concurred with the House resolutions, and open 
hostilities began. 1 

When Congress met again in November, Macon 
was promptly placed on the committee on Foreign 
Relations, along with Grundy and Calhoun. Before 
the war began, Macon had favored the invasion of 
Canada, as, indeed, had all the Republicans. The 
annexation of Canada had been looked forward to 
since the beginning of the Revolution. It had been 
contemplated by the Constitutionalists of 1789. 
What was more natural now than to round up our 
northern boundaries? At the same time, Macon 
declared openly that he went to war for sailors 
rights : "One part of the nation delights in using 
the sea ; another in agriculture ; we supply each 
other s wants; we ought never to dream of separa 
tion." 2 Yet it was at this time, as it had ever been, 
Macon s policy to extend the boundaries of the 
United States. He was in this quite generous, since 
any annexation from Canada could mean no other 
than increase of the influence of the Northern States. 
It was an imperial democracy which he would see 
expand in all directions. While the East and North 
were constantly chiding him for desiring to admit 
new States from the Southwest, in order to extend 
slavery, he without hesitation advocated the exten- 

1 Annals of Congress, i2th Cong., II., i632- 34 ; Schouler II., 396. 

2 Annals of Congress, i2th Cong., II. , 1191. 



REVOLUTION IN CONGRESS. 281 

sion of our boundaries in the North, where only free 
states could be expected to be created. 

War had been made, but Congress and the Ad 
ministration were not sure as to the reality of public 
support, and hence the first campaign was but feebly 
supported by the authorities in Washington. 

The re-election of Madison was a matter of 
greater concern to most of the politicians at the 
National capital than the vigorous prosecution of 
the war. The Democratic members of Congress 
met in caucus late in May to determine on their 
candidates. Madison and Gerry were chosen, not 
without much dissent, for Madison was not a Jef 
ferson. De Witt Clinton, nephew of the deceased 
Vice-President, calculating on the influence of the 
New England States and his own popularity in New 
York, now deserted the Republican ranks to become 
the standard-bearer of the Federalists. Macon wrote 
concerning this political move: u Mr. Adams long 
since wrote to his friendPinckneythat they had fallen 
on evil times. We certainly live in strange ones. Mr. 
Adams is the leading candidate on the Republican 
ticket for the election of P. and V.-P., and De W. 
Clinton, the Federal candidate. Mr. A. was always, 
in my opinion, an honest man, but still that does not 
change the strange appearance he and Mr. Clinton 
make in the present contest for the Presidency." 1 
There was great dissatisfaction with the caucusing 
methods of Congress. In New York and New Jer 
sey this dissatisfaction was so widespread as to 
turn the tide again in favor of the Federalists. New 
York, too, gave its support to its favorite son. Penn 
sylvania, Jefferson s second Republican pillar of the 
Union, remained faithful to the Administration, 
though there was much clamor raised against unpop- 

i Letter to Joseph H. Nicholson, November 7, 1812. 



282 NATHANIEX MACON. 

ular Gallatin and his Virginian friends. Virginia 
and the West were firm in their support of Madison 
and war. North Carolina was witnessing a change 
in its politics and public men not unlike that which 
had come with Clay into Congress in 1811. Strong 
men were entering politics, and that, too, on the 
side of the opposition. Judge Gaston, the Pearsons, 
and others were threatening, in the summer of 1812, 
to carry the State for Clinton. It will be remem 
bered that the Clintons were popular in North Caro 
lina as States Rights men. Madison had been 
unpopular there in 1808. In order to make sure of 
the result, the Republican Legislature of 1811 
changed the mode of choosing Presidential electors. 
It had always been done by popular vote in districts ; 
it was now to be left to the Assembly, which, it was 
conceded, would be safely Republican. In this way 
Madison was given the full strength of the State. 1 
South Carolina and Georgia had been doubtful ; but 
the result showed that the Jefferson party still had 
the upper hand there. Madison was re-elected by 
a vote of 128 to 89, a canvass of the vote showing 
that the Potomac, with the exception of Pennsyl 
vania, was the dividing line between the candidates, 
between agriculture favoring war and commerce op 
posing it. Federalist or commercial states had gen 
erally chosen their electors by the indirect method 
of election, by their legislatures; the Republican 
States had usually pursued the opposite method, on 
the ground that it was more democratic, but now 
they were making exceptions to their rule. The 
contest of 1812 was for a time regarded as quite 
doubtful, hence the change in North Carolina. But 
the sense of fair play and almost instinctively demo 
cratic leanings of the people compelled the next 
Legislature to return to its former practice. 

i See Gastcm s speech, Annals of Congress, January, 1804. 



REVOLUTION IN CONGRESS. 283 

James Madison, even under the most favorable 
circumstances, was the last man prominent in public 
affairs who w r ould have been called a War president, 
He had been no soldier in the Revolution ; had, like 
Jefferson, hated the very name of war. What 
would he now do in a great contest with England, 
and that, too, when the country was woefully ill- 
prepared, and when a refractory element of his own 
party stood ready at any time to embarrass his oper 
ations ? The event was worse than might have been 
expected. An American army invaded Canada, to 
be sure, but that was all. On the sea some credita 
ble show was made, but England was only playing 
war with her erstwhile revolted colonists. Madison, 
in his longing for some stay, some strong hand 
on which to rest his administration, was seriously 
contemplating making Henry Clay a general, and 
entrusting to him the field operations, as he had done 
those of Congress ! 

Massachusetts protested against the invasion of 
an "innocent and friendly people," and sent her 
protest to Congress in November, 1813; the South 
rallied the more strongly to Madison s administra 
tion. A high tariff was laid, to w r hich New England 
responded by wholesale smuggling. The commit 
tee on Ways and Means proposed a direct tax, a most 
dangerous step for any party to pursue; but this 
was voted down, Macon doing his utmost to prevent 
its passage, doubtless remembering what havoc a 
former direct tax had done in the Federalist ranks. 

In February, 1814, Maryland remonstrated 
against the war, and in the debate which followed 
the presentation of the remonstrance, it was often 
charged against the party in power that embargo, 
non-importation, and finally the war itself, were all 
the measures of backwoodsmen who knew r little or 



284 NATHANIEL MACON. 

nothing of the affairs of a civilized government. 
Macon replied : "And when, in the Revolution, the 
back countrymen went to Boston, a different senti 
ment prevailed there. It was never complained of 
the brave Morgan, when he went there, that he was 
a back countryman." He repeatedly asserted that 
if the Government would go back to the old-fash 
ioned war methods of the Revolution, we should 
win. Just what those methods were he did not 
explain. In fact, Macon knew little about military 
affairs ; he was, by his intense dislike of all regular 
army establishments and his simple faith in citizen 
soldiers, unfit to pass judgment on the operations of 
war. 

Macon was made chairman of the committee of 
Congress "to report on the spirit and manner in 
which the war had been waged by the enemy." His 
committee sat in Washington and examined wit 
nesses from different parts of the country, and re 
ported to Congress in July, 1813, that Great Britain 
had violated the rules of war in carrying Americans 
to England and placing them in close prisons with 
out giving any reason for such conduct ; that she had 
claimed American prisoners as subjects, and forced 
them into battle against America ; that all American 
sailors in England at the outbreak of war had been 
seized and detained as prisoners ; that flags of truce 
had been violated; that England had regularly em 
ployed the Indians by paying set prices for all 
American prisoners they would deliver into the 
hands of English officers ; that the Indians were sys 
tematically instigated to the commission of the most 
heinous crimes all along the borders by English 
commanders. Every possible crime was found to be 
commonly practiced by the enemy, and there was 
sufficient evidence submitted, as it appears, to war- 



REVOLUTION IN CONGRESS. 285 

rant the finding. Macon s ancient grudge against 
England was in no way lessened by his experience 
on this committee. His report was exhaustive, and 
his statements to Congress were eminently moderate 
in view of the facts which had been elicted by the 
investigation. 1 

At the second session of Congress, in March,^ 
1814, the deplorable state of finances was attempted 
to be remedied by means of a loan. The opposition 
took this opportunity to oppose again the whole 
policy of the Government, and most prominent 
among the opposition at this time were Gaston and 
Pearson, of North Carolina. Macon was unequal 
to his colleagues, both in talents and education, yet 
he made a very successful speech in favor of the 
loan and against them, in which he took occasion 
again to defend his Westerners, "backwoodsmen," 
as our polished Carolinians insisted on calling them. 
Gaston, Pearson and Macon all spoke of disunion ; 
Gaston and Pearson as though it would be prefera- 
ble to the burden of democratic government, Macon 
as though democratic government throughout the 
world depended on the continued existence of the 
American Union. Gaston even charged the ma 
jority with the responsibility of the curse of slavery, 
which was getting such a hold on North Carolina. 
Macon responded : "I sincerely lament that my col 
league has thought it necessary to refer to the unfor 
tunate situation of our native State; I agree that 
slavery is a lamentable thing, and I should be glad if 
there were not an African in this country. But slave 
or no slave, I am determined with her ( North Caro 
lina) ; I will stick to her as well in adversity, if it 
overtake her, as in prosperity. No misfortune that 
can happen to her could induce me to leave her, and 

1 Annals of Congress, 13th Cong., I., 489-492. 



286 NATHANIEL MACON. 

I religiously believe that no State in the Union is 
better governed. 1 

It was indeed a strange revolution in North Caro 
lina politics when Macon voted for loans, and Pear 
son and his political friends opposed them. But 
other propositions equally inconsistent with Ma- 
con s previous career were favored by him at this 
time. William H. Murfree, a new member from 
the Edenton district of North Carolina, reported to 
Congress an extensive plan of public improvements, 
consisting of a network of canals designed to con 
nect the larger towns of the Carolinas from Nor 
folk to Savannah. Macon submitted at the same 
time a series of petitions asking for the same thing. 
The plan was a magnificent one, not unlike Clay s 
great policy two years later, and quite similar to 
the plan submitted by Archibald Murphy to the 
Legislature of North Carolina some years later. It 
was the day of great schemes, and when any of them 
looked to the developing of North Carolina, Ma 
con did not scruple to endorse them, though such- 
expenditure was entirely out of harmony with his 
system of constitutional interpretation. 2 

Toward the end of the year 1814, when the coun 
try seemed to be passing through its darkest days, a 
bill was brought before Congress for drafting into 
the army 80,000 militia. The number of troops 
from each State was to be proportioned according 
to representation in the House of Representatives, 
which naturally would have borne much more heav 
ily on the South than on the North. Macon pro 
posed an amendment, which provided for the draft 
ing to be done according to white population a 
change which meant a reduction of some four hun 
dred troops for North Carolina, of two thousand 

1 Annals of Congress, i3th Cong.. II., 1777. 

2 Annals of Congress, isth Cong., II., 1767. 



REVOLUTION IN CONGRESS. 287 

for Virginia. 1 It was evidently unjust to fix the 
drafts according to representation in Congress, for, 
as every one knows, the negroes counted three- 
fifths of their population in National politics. But 
figures are interesting. Massachusetts, opposing 
the war bitterly from the beginning, was called on 
for ten thousand troops ; Virginia, favoring the war, 
and having a much larger vote in Congress, was to 
supply nine thousand. And in the apportionment 
of the proposed direct tax of the previous year, 
Massachusetts was to have paid $316,000, while Vir 
ginia would have paid $369,000. Macon s amend 
ment was lost, 66 to 91, Calhoun and the younger 
Republicans voting against it on the ground of lib 
erality, the South having been in favor of the war 
all along.- The debate on the bill for drafting the 
militia occupied much time. The bill passed, Ma- 
con voting nay, on December 14. But the back 
woodsman, Andrew Jackson, was getting things in 
readiness for striking a blow which would render 
the new war measure unnecessary. 

The events of the last days of 1814 and the first 
of 1815 no doubt made a great impression on Ma- 
con s mind, determined and uncompromising enemy 
of Great Britain that he was, yet not an opinion, not 
a written word, has been preserved. His long 
career in the House was drawing to a close. /There 
remains a single speech to note and his re-election 
in 1815. When the war was ended, many of the 
leaders of the war movement in 1811 favored retain 
ing at least ten thousand troops in the regular army. 
Calhoun was outspoken in his defence of a large 
"peace establishment," as it was called. Pickering 
and the Federalists, so many as remained in Con 
gress, at once joined the young Republicans in sup- 

1 Annals of Congress, i3th Cong., III., 713, 870. 

2 Annals of Congress, i3th Cong., III., 882. 



288 NATHANIEL MACON. 

port of a larger army and navy. Calhoim saw 
danger in Canada still, and Florida was also a con 
tiguous territory in possession of a European power. 
A larger army than the old one (three thousand 
men) was absolutely necessary. Macon, true to his 
ancient notions, opposed the army plan : "If it (the 
treaty) were only a truce, then we ought not to 
stop at ten thousand men ; instead of disbanding our 
forces we ought to go on recruiting them. During 
all the trouble with Great Britain and Spain, the 
standing army consisted of one brigade only. With 
that force we took possession of Louisiana, had 
maintained and had kept up our garrisons." And, 
falling back on his militia again, he said: "The 
true way to safety is the militia, and the way to 
make our militia efficient is to let them know that 
the safety of the Nation depends on them, and to 
take nothing more from the products of their labor 
to support regular soldiers than is absolutely neces 
sary. In proportion as men live easily and com 
fortably, in proportion as they are free from the bur 
dens of taxation, they will be attached to the gov 
ernment in which they live." 1 

This, perhaps, is the best expression of his polit 
ical faith to be found in all his speeches and in the 
few writings of his still extant. His theory, and 
experience was the basis of his theory, was that to 
get rid of an army, to get taxes once laid repealed, 
was much more difficult than to get armies and taxes 
voted. And every one who has reviewed the acts 
of Congress and the steady growth of the unrepubli- 
can features of our government, will admit the truth 
of this statement. Macon voted again with the "old 
Republicans" on this measure. 

Never did the legislators of a nation cease their 

i A.nnal of Congress, i3th Cong., III., i22g- y). 



REVOLUTION IN CONGRESS. 289 

labors and retire to their homes in more joyous 
mood than did the members of the old Thirteenth 
Congress on March 4, 1815; their last act provided 
for a day of thanksgiving to "Almighty God for His 
great goodness manifested in restoring to these 
United States the blessings of peace." 

The end of the war marked the final dissolution 
of the great political party whose overthrow in 
North Carolina and the Union had been one of the 
principal objects of Macon s political life. From 
1791 to 1815, he voted against nearly every measure 
they advocated, both in and out of Congress. In 
North Carolina he had succeeded admirably until 
the rise of the new party in 1811 and 1812, until 
the Beginning of a new era, and not only in his State, 
but in the whole Union. The people of North 
Carolina had come to regard Macon as their own, 
as their truest representative, and never once had 
his district discarded him. His success in the War- 
renton district, a highly cultured section of the 
State, was the strongest possible proof that he was 
neither a rough, uncultured man, nor an old fogy, 
but a man who reflected the sterner manly virtues 
of the people themselves. If Randolph ^had the 
right to boast of his Charlotte county constituents, 
certainly Macon could be proud of his fellow citizens 
of Warren and neighboring counties. As he came 
to be one of the first figures of the land, they boasted 
of him, and when he favored war against England, 
with taxes for its support, they did not desert him. 
In the summer of 1815, they returned him once 
again, but he was soon to change his constituency 
from a single district to the whole State. 

Eleven days after his appearance in Washington, 
in December 1815, he was informed that the Legis 
lature of North Carolina had elected him to a seat 
19 



290 NATHANIEL MACON. 

in the United States Senate, to fill the place of 
David Stone, resigned. Macon s twenty-tour years 
in the House were closed in the following sim 
ple but appropriate words : "To the Speaker of the 
House of Representatives : I deem it my duty to 
inform you and the members of the House, that I 
have this day, by letter to the Governor of North 
Carolina, resigned my seat in the House of Repre 
sentatives. I can not withdraw from those with 
whom I have been associated for years without 
expressing the grateful sense I entertain of their 
uniform kindness, and assuring them that it wall be 
remembered with pleasure during my life." 

His relations with Randolph, about which so much 
has been said, are well pictured in the following quo 
tation from a letter to his old friend, Nicholson, 
dated February I, 1815: "Jonathan did not love 
David more than I have Randolph, and I still have 
that same feeling towards him; but some how or 
other I am constrained from saying anything about 
it or him ; unless now and then to defend him against 
false accusations, or what I believe to be such. 
There is hardly any evil that afflicts one more than 
the loss of a frien4 especially when not conscious of 
having given any cause for it. I can not account 
for the coldness with which you say he treated you, 
or his not staying at your house while in Baltimore. 
Stanford now and then comes to where I sit in the 
House and shows me a letter from R. to him, which 
is all I see from him. He has not wrote me since I 
left Congress, nor I but once to him, which was to 
enclose a book of his that I found in the city when 
I came to the next session. I have said this much 
in answer to your letter, and it is more than has 
been said or written to any other person. God bless 
vou and vours." 



CHAPTER XVII. 

IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE, 1815-1828. 
I. 

The later period of Macon s political life easily 
divides itself into two parts, the first beginning with 
his election to the Senate in 1815 and closing with 
the vote on the Missouri Compromise; the second 
embracing the years 1820 to 1828, a period taken up 
almost entirely with the almost shameful personal 
scramble for office which resulted in the election of 
John Quincey Adams, and with the* apparently per 
manent establishment of the Clay doctrine of pro 
tective tariffs and internal improvements. 

When Macon entered the so-called upper branch 
of our National legislature, it was a different body 
from what it had been when Jefferson presided 
over it in 1796-1800. The changes of the years 
1800-1804 had substituted a strong Republican for 
the former determined Federalist majority, so that 
until 1812 the Senate was little better than a regis 
tering organ for the party in power. Great debates 
were practically unknown in the Senate, even as 
late as 1815. The House had been the National 
debating society, and not infrequently its members 
were twitted with the remark that their s was the 
turbulent, unruly, democratic branch of Congress. 
A member of the Senate in these earlier days felt 
himself immeasurably more dignified, more aristo 
cratic, than a Representative, and the prevailing sen 
timent of Americans of that time indulged him in 
his sense of superiority. 

But just after the War of 1812, when that brisk, 
healthy breeze from the frontier, the spirit which 



292 NATHANIEL, MACON. 

had in fact forced the nation into war, became the 
prevailing wind at Washington, a rapid change 
took place in the character of the Senate. It became 
an arena of debate, of political contest, the like of 
which has seldom been seen in the world s history. 
The greatest minds of the country met there, and, 
ignoring some traditional notions of decorum and 
silent dignity, fought out in weeks and months of 
able discussion the issues whose decision fixed the 
destiny of this western world of ours. From this 
time until 1860, the Senate was pre-eminently the 
more important branch of Congress. Among the 
older members of this body in 1815 were Harrison 
Gray Otis of Hartford Convention fame, Samuel 
W. Dana of Connecticutt, and Rufus King of New 
York, the ex-ambassador at the Court of St. James, 
all Federalists of the old school, and unfriendly in 
the extreme to the party in power, as well as to the 
energetic younger men who had come into almost 
absolute control of the House of Representatives 
since 1811. Jefferson s son-in-law, John W. Eppes, 
James Barbour of Virginia, John Gailliard of South 
Carolina, and George W. Campbell of Tennessee 
were some of the more influential Southern Republi 
cans. 1 Macon came into the Senate at the time when 
the change was taking place ; he brought a reputation 
and a long experience in National legislation, which 
entitled him to the greatest respect. His standing 
in the country is perhaps best illustrated by an arti 
cle which appeared in the Richmond Enquirer a few 
years before, the spirit of which is summed "up in the 
following words : "Nathaniel Macon, too, has been 
made the mark of ridicule ! Sir, to what lengths is 
this mad career to be pushed? Though I differ 
from N. Macon in some measures, my heart does 
him homage. He may err, but his integrity soars 

i Annals of Congress, i4th Cong., ist Sess., 10-20; Schouler, III., 21. 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1815-1828. 293 

a sightless distance above the reach of suspicion. 
Firm, sterling in his faith, blunt in his manners, he 
can never prove a recreant to his principles. Never 
can I forget the tears which streamed into my eyes 
when, during last winter, I saw him coming forward 
and leading the van of his country s defenders." 
And again, in 1812, on the occasion of the declara 
tion of war, Macon is given very high rank in the 
nation by the Enquirer. 1 

The country was in a deplorable condition when 
Macon took his seat in the Senate. There was a 
deficit of the year 1814 of $1,000,000. There was 
no system of finance. Nowhere outside of New 
England did the banks redeem their notes in specie, 
the Government itself being unable to meet its obli 
gations. A depreciated paper currency ran riot in 
all the Southern and Middle States; and to make 
matters worse, not even the individual S tates were 
responsible for their bank issues. The only remedy 
appeared to be a second national bank, the plans of 
which Gallatin had outlined in 1811. Secretary of 
Treasury, Dallas, good Republican that he was, 
made the proposition to Congress, which soon took 
the form of a National Bank bill, and was engineered 
through the House by Clay and Calhoun, while 
Webster opposed ! The object of the bill was first 
to supersede the cheap paper issues of the State 
banks by giving the people a sound convertible 
national paper currency, and, second, to aid the Gov 
ernment in the negotiation and payment of loans. 
The plan of organization was strikingly similar to 
that of Hamilton s bank in 1791 ; the capital was 
placed at $35,000,000, $7,000,000 of which was to 

i These references apply to his service in connection with the second 
war with Great Britain. They are cited at this point to show Macon s 
standing: in Virginia at this time, and especially to show how the great 
Democratic editor, Thomas Richie, regarded him. 



294 NATHANIEL MACON. 

be taken by the Government, the remainder to be 
offered to the public : individuals, corporations and 
states. There were to be twenty-five directors, five 
of whom were to be appointed annually by the Gov 
ernment, and twenty to be elected by the stockhold 
ers. The Government was to control the establish 
ment of branch banks, and the Secretary of the 
Treasury could at any time curtail its functions as 
a national depository; besides, Congress reserved 
the right of examination and rigid inspection of its 
affairs. After passing the House, the bill was re 
ported to the Senate from the committee on Finance, 
of which George W. Campbell was chairman, on 
March 25, 1816; Federalists and Republicans voted 
together for and against it. Macon was determined 
in his opposition, based on the ground of unconstitu- 
tionality. When Mason, of New Hampshire, pro 
posed to amend the bill in order that Congress might 
redeem its notes in specie, Macon joined him, favor 
ing as he did what he called "hard money 5 currency 
alone. And when King, of New York, tried to 
modify the measure so that not more than three of 
the five Government directors should be appointed 
from any one State, Macon agreed. As a last 
resort to defeat the plan before it came to an issue, 
Macon voted with only five others for indefinite 
postponement. The bank law was finally passed on 
April the third by a vote of 22 to I2, 1 Macon, of 
course, being among the nays. Macon s colleague, 
James Turner, 2 voted for the bill and was not re 
turned to the Senate at the next election. No other 

1 Annals of Congress, i/jth Cong., ist Sess., 235-281. 

2 It is worth noting in this connection, and it shows the influence of 
the county in North Carolina, that Turner and Macon, both United 
States Senators at this time, Weldon N. Edwards, M. C. from that dis 
trict, Judge Potter of the United States District Court, and John Hall, 
next year appointed a Judge of the new State Supreme Court, all Jived 
in Warren. 



IN THE u. s. SENATE, 1815-1828. 295 

course was to have been expected of Macon ; but that 
the ablest Southern democrats should have joined 
forces with the younger and less distinguished Fed 
eralists of the North and East, and carried through 
a national banking system which was in most essen 
tials a copy of Hamilton s plan of 1791, must have 
caused no little surprise throughout the country. 
The men who opposed the bank were those who fol 
lowed most closely the policy outlined by Jefferson 
while he was leader of the opposition; those who 
voted for it were the same men who incorporated 
into their own creed the best of the Federalist plat 
form, taking care, however, to avoid acknowledging 
the source of their wisdom. 

For those who love party names, it may be proper 
to say that the Republican-Democratic party gave 
the country the bank which the greatest of Demo 
crats, Andrew Jackson, devoted the best of his offi 
cial life to destroying. And most of the men who 
opposed the establishment of the second United 
States bank, Webster for example, made it the great 
fight of their lives to defeat Jackson s anti-bank 
policy of 1832-1836. The country at this time was 
passing through a crisis, and most of the greater 
leaders had not found their proper places. Parties 
were going asunder. It was to require eight years 
for their recrystalization. The South was placed by 
Calhoun and Clay in unnatural relations ; it was 
made for the time the mainstay of doctrines, anti- 
Southern, anti-agricultural, and many years of bit 
ter impoverishment, as we shall see, was the result., 
Macon stood almost alone among the greater men\ 
of his time refusing to be allured by the glowing 
eloquence of misdirected talent, such, for example, 
as Clay s. He stood as one crying in the wilder 
ness, not eloquent, not even a master leader, yet one 



296 NATHANIEL MACON. 

who by instinct scented from afar the dangers for his 
"South country," as he begins now to call it, against 
which very destiny itself seemed inevitably drifting. 

Early in the next session of the same Congress, 
and while Monroe was quietly waiting for the next 
inauguration to confer on him the insignia of power, 
Calhoun and Clay, ever resourceful in new schemes, 
projected the famous Internal Improvements policy. 
Prosperity had already set in; the bank, too, was 
working beneficial ends almost as miraculously as 
had Hamilton s twenty-five years before. Peace, 
public confidence, and a buoyant young people, 
not any fiscal or political agency, brought back the 
years of plenty. The receipts were surpassing the 
expenditures. A surplus that most extraordinary 
of bugbears to American politicians was immi 
nent. It was determined by the young Republicans 
"to lay aside a fund to be used for the purpose here 
inafter to be stated." A bill actually passed both 
branches of Congress to lay aside this sum, which 
was to be increased from year to year. It was 
clearly understood that this money was to be used 
on internal improvements. 

From the time Washington began to agitate the 
plan of establishing a closer connection between the 
Chesapeake Bay, especially Norfolk, Virginia, and 
the Northwest, till the appearance of Clay in Con 
gress, after the War of 1812, the idea of public 
expenditure for public improvements, in the way 
of canals and turnpike roads, had constantly grown 
on the public mind. Virginia, New York, North 
Carolina, and other States, had undertaken, or were 
about to undertake, magnificent works of one kind 
or another. It was long since fairly well admitted 
that the National government was not empowered by 
the Constitution to collect taxes or expend public 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1815-1828. 297 

revenue in this way. The States were left to under 
take such tasks. Perhaps the greatest advocate of 
this on the part of the States was De Witt Clinton, 
whose foresight has an everlasting monument in 
the greatness and wealth of New York City, the fruit 
of his Erie Canal. 

But since the war was ended and a surplus was 
threatening, even at the very gates, Clay hit upon 
the happy idea of warding off the danger and, what 
was equally important to him, of winning popular 
ity in the Western and Middle States. 

The bill looking to this end was introduced into 
the Senate on February 10 under the name of "An 
act to set apart and pledge as a permanent fund for 
internal improvements the bonus of the National 
Bank, and the United States share of its dividends." 1 
The wording of the bill was enough to excite Ma- 
con s opposition, and, accordingly, when the subject 
was open for debate he declared "this to be a 
new plan of legislation in this country. It makes an 
appropriation of millions for roads and canals, with 
out directing a cent to be expended on any particular 
road or canal. It is as incorrect as it is new and 
against the invariable practice of the Government, 
which has been to make appropriations of money 
as specific as possible. Who can tell what effect this 
general appropriation may have in a few years?" 
Clay had not favored a rapid payment of the public 
debt. Macon now called on the Senate to use this 
surplus in payment of all National obligations. The 
bill "locks up millions uselessly, for years to come, 
in the Treasury, which ought to be employed in the 
payment of the public debt. In time of peace no 
exertion ought to be spared to discharge it. It is a 
safe and good rule to pay debts when you have the 

i Annals of Congress, i4th Cong., ad Sess., 165. 



298 NATHANIEL, MACON. 

means." As to the constitutionality of building 
roads and canals, he was as strict a constructionist 
as ever, and he had himself recorded once again as 
opposed to all latitudinarian interpretation of what 
he called the National Charter. James Barbour, of 
Virginia, inconsistent with the best traditions of that 
State, maintained that precedent was sufficient justi 
fication of the bill. This Macon refused to recog 
nize; else, said he, "you will admit the alien and 
sedition laws to be justification of . other alien and 
sedition laws. I am in favor of improvements of 
every kind," so he went on to say, "but by individual 
enterprise, not by the United States." 1 A resolu 
tion for indefinite postponement failed by a vote of 
19 to 1 8, and the several attempts at radical amend 
ments failed by similarly close votes, but the final 
decision stood 20 to 15 in favor of its passage. 2 In 
the debates on this bill the same grounds were cov 
ered as in the National Bank discussion at the pre 
vious session, and in general both Representatives 
and members of the Senate took the same relative 
positions, though the party of strict construction in 
the Senate gained the influence of Campbell, of 
Tennessee, whose voice had been potent in carrying 
the bank scheme at the previous session. To the 
chagrin of Clay and the great delight of Macon, 
Madison vetoed the bill, which, since the neces 
sary two-thirds vote could not be had, ended for the 
time this second scheme of the Republicans looking 
toward the establishment of the doctrine of their 
ancient opponents. 

It was a matter of no little gratification to Macon 
that on the assembling of the Fifteenth Congress, in 
December 1817, the new President, Monroe, an- 

1 Annals of Congress, i4th Cong., 2d Sess., 177-179. 

2 Annals of Congress, i4th Cong., 2d Sess., 101. 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1815-1828. 299 

nounced most conclusively in his first annual mes 
sage that the Executive would regard any bill simi 
lar to the Internal Improvements measure of the 
last session as unconstitutional. Though Monroe 
admitted unhesitatingly that the improvement of the 
great public highways, especially those connecting 
the East with the West, was good policy, he was 
unwilling to read into the Constitution the powers 
necessary to its accomplishment by the National 
government. He proposed at once a constitutional 
amendment to that end. 1 

Before entering upon a discussion of the two 
great contests between rival factions of the Repub 
lican party in Congress during Monroe s first term, 
and the results of which cast a gloom over Macon s 
later political life, let us see what were the environ 
ments of a member of the Senate during Monroe s 
administration, and how Macon adjusted himself to 
these environments. 

i. Although Monroe was a good Virginian of the 
old school, a diligent follower of Jefferson, and an 
exceedingly wise and able President, he was not 
by any means the simple, unaffected man in official 
life that our first Republican President had been. 
Monroe desired to direct the affairs of the Nation, 
as Washington had done, that is, as one who stoodj 
above party. Believing party government to be an 
evil in the United States, he sought first of all to 
ignore party lines and to break down party barriers. 2 
Jefferson had believed that parties were necessary 
evils in a free country; but Macon, somewhat like 
Monroe in this, believed there should be only onej 
party in the country, and that the most democratic/ 
imaginable. The various plans and practices of the 

1 Schouler, III., 5 ; See Message of December, 1816, Annals of Cong. 

2 Schouler, III., 5. Monroe s \vords are quoted in 26 Niles Register, 
160-167 



300 NATHANIEL MACON. 

fifth President to dissolve parties do not require to 
be reviewed here, except to say that he was so suc 
cessful as to bring about the "Era of Good Feeling" 
so much spoken of during his second term, just 
when there was the most rancorous ill-feeling ever 
known at Washington, with two exceptions ; he was 
successful enough not to meet with any opposition at 
his second election a single elector voting against 
him to prevent his coming in the same category with 
Washington in popularity. But in matters of eti- 
! quette and ceremony, Monroe s imitation of Wash 
ington was much less pleasing to Macon. It had 
been determined in Cabinet meeting to restrict the 
free, easy-going manners in official circles in Wash 
ington so prevalent since 1801. The levees of Lady 
Washington reappeared, now that the commodious 
White House was complete; only on stated days 
of the week were Congressmen expected to visit the 
President, except on special business. Washington 
City always responds to the prevailing sentiment of 
the incumbents of the White House, so that balls 
and birthday parties multiplied thick and fast ; fash 
ion gained a greater sway, and notions of precedence 
were strictly observed by the ladies of the Cabinet. 
All this annoyed and even disgusted Macon, who 
believed in no social or class distinctions "among 
freemen." A letter of his to a friend in North 
Carolina 2 gives his views on the subject: "There 
has been some change in the etiquette among the 
ladies, which has furnished a subject for conversa 
tion; Mrs. Monroe returns no visits, and Mrs. 
Adams expects to be visited first by the wives of 
Congressmen." And on the same theme to another 
friend (Jos. H. Nicholson), a little earlier, on the 

i Macon to Bartlett Yancey, February 8, 1818, in the Macon- Yancey 
Papers in possession of the University of North Carolina. 



IN THE u. s. SENATE, 1815-1828. 301 

occasion of an invitation to a Christmas dinner, he 
wrote: "But pride, vain pride multiplieth food of 
the plain kind into such a variety of forms and tastes, 
that a plain, respectable countryman who hath 
enough to eat and to spare hardly knows the flesh of 
the beef or any other animal when by chance he hap 
pens to be at the table of the rich in a commercial 
city; so much has cooking changed in a few years 
that one scarcely knows the name of a dish ; and if 
he scarcely knows beef, how will he find out the new- x 
fashioned pies, puddings, etc. ? * * * There is 
an aristocracy in everything but downright work. 
The rich can not bear that the food of the poor 
should be cooked or dressed like theirs, nor that 
they should use the same words to convey the same 
meaning, nor that their clothes should be cut in the 
same fashion. Hence, the constant change in these 
and many other things which concern the great fam 
ily of mankind. Do not judge from this that I am 
unwilling that those who have the means of getting 
good things should not have them. I only object 
to this universal change, which constantly tends to 
separate the more fortunate class of society from 
the less fortunate. * * * Like all other old 
folks, I think the politics of former days better than 
those of the present, and that every change of fash 
ion which tends to separate farther the rich and thex 
poor has a strong tendency to aristocracy, and that\ 
these changes will, if they have not already, tend to/ 
give a wide construction to the Constitution of the 
United States, in fact to make it unlimited by de 
grees and without a regular amendment in the 
proper and constitutional method. In no other way, 
it seems to me, can any one account for the great 
and almost universal change which has taken place 
in what is now called Republican politics ; * * * 



302 NATHANIEL MACON. 

fashion has enabled them to do it, and fashion will 
probably enable them to go forward till it is [com 
pletely] changed. Even religion itself is not en 
tirely free from the influence of the tyrant, fashion." 
2.. Congressmen then lived in "messes" about the 
city, or over in ancient Georgetown; kept, as in 
Jefferson s time, horses in their own hired stables, 
and rode to the new halls of Congress, or at will 
out among the neighboring hills of Virginia and 
Maryland for a fox chase in season. Macon s 
horses were the very best thoroughbreds, groomed in 
true "Virginia style." Macon lived in Washington, 
not far from the government buildings, as he tells 
Nicholson in a letter of February 15, 1815 : "I live 
at Mrs. Clark s, in F street, not far east of the burnt 
treasury office. Rhea of Tennessee, Hall 1 of Geor 
gia, John Roane and Burwell of Virginia, and 
Franklin 2 of North Carolina. The house is about 
middling, and I can I believe get a bed put in my 
room for you if you should visit the city. Let me 
know a day beforehand, that the room may be 
fixed." But life at Washington was not all so sim 
ple and unaffected as that of Macon and some of his 
friends. Clay and Webster were both addicted to 
card playing and wine to such an extent as to injure 
them politically. Randolph, as indeed was Macon in 
this, was an inveterate card-player. It has been 
said that Calhoun was almost the only pure man in 
national politics at this time. Whether this is not 
exaggeration the author will not undertake to show. 
It is safe to say that public life was not more ideal 
than it now is, and that Macon was an equally 
exceptionally pure man morally and otherwise with 
Calhoun. 

1 Boiling Hall, son of a Warren county family, and a member of Con 
gress for several terms. 

2 Meshack Franklin, not Jesse, a former Representative and Governor 
of his State. 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1815-1828. 303 

3. As has been gleaned already from this chapter, 
the whole trend of public opinion at the National 
capital among the better educated and more success 
ful classes was towards a lavish public expenditure. 
Lowndes and Calhoun of South Carolina, Mercer 
and St. George Tucker of Virginia, Gaston of North 
Carolina, and a host of other semi-Federalists of the 
South, all following in the lead of Clay and over 
come by the fact that our National income had 
increased from $7,000,000 in 1815 to more than 
$36,000,000 in 1817, and by seeing an annual sur 
plus of $4,000,000 in the treasury, were ready to 
launch the Government on any sort of extravagant 
policy. And again, as Macon s letter to Nicholson 
shows, fashion and what he regarded as extrava 
gant living, were coming more and more into evi 
dence. Clay could not support himself on the six 
dollars a day from the Government, and this was 
true, perhaps, of more than a majority of the mem 
bers of Congress, as is rather sadly shown by the 
vote on the increase of the pay of Congressmen. 
Not so with Macon, whose suit of "best navy blue, 
turn-over top boots" and immaculate linen cost him 
no more than they had cost at the close of the Revo 
lution, when the leaders of Republican society, at 
least, were all plain-lived country gentlemen. His 
manner of living being very simple, his "mess" 
scarcely more expensive than a school-boy s board 
ing place to-day, there was small demand on his 
income. So while many another member exiled 
himself forever from the National legislature by 
voting himself the very moderate increase of $2 a 
day, he was altogether satisfied with his former per 
diem, asking no more of the people than had been 
given from the first. 

While Macon had kept in line with his party in 



304 NATHANIEL MACON. 

the main, Randolph and his devoted friend Stan 
ford had opposed the war of 1812, had cooperated 
with the opponents of the Government itself, the 
former going- so far as to write long public letters 
to the New Englanders praising their disloyalty and 
declaring that an honest and independent man could 
not get a hearing in Virginia; asking himself the 
cause of his addressing his remarks to the New 
England press in the form of a letter to one of her 
Senators in Congress, he said r 1 "It is because the 
avenue to the public ear is shut against me in Vir 
ginia, and I have been flattered to believe that the 
sound of my voice may reach New England. Nay, 
that it would be heard there, not without attention 
and respect. With us the press is under a virtual 
imprimatur, and it would be more easy, at this time, 
to ^ force into circulation the treasury notes, than 
opinions militating against the administration, 
through the press in Virginia." This was untrue; 
there were prominent opposition papers in Richmond 
which simply for the sake of fighting Ritchie s 
Enquirer, if for no other reason, would have pub 
lished anything Randolph chose to write against 
Madison. Though Macon was a life-long friend of 
Randolph and though he often agreed with him, 
especially about 1820, on leading public issues, he 
was not now, in 1815-1817, a member of the group 
of malcontents which Randolph headed and which 
had led Macon into some political errors in 1807. 
Virginia was not the object of his anger and jeal 
ousy as it was of Randolph ; but it was constantly 
praised by him in private and in public. 

Macon s position was a difficult one at this time, 
the beginning of Monroe s administration. Having 
favored Monroe, as we have seen, against Madison 

* Garland s I,ifeof Randolph, II., 53 letter dated Dec. 15, 1814. 



IN THE u. s. SENATE, 1815-1828. 305 



in 



1807, and having lent himself to Randolph s 
scheme of winning the vote of Virginia for Monroe 
against Madison, and against Jefferson s wish as 
well, then having broken away from Monroe and 
publicly advocated the nomination of Gallatin by 
North Carolina in 1808, even advising his constitu 
ents to prefer De Witt Clinton to Madison, and 
finally in a characteristic way turning to the sup 
port of Madison at the beginning of the war of 
1812, sustaining the Administration heartily against 
all detractors, he had scarce anything left except a 
stainless reputation as free from charges of intrigue 
as from over-devotion to any man or cause. He 
was respected by the new President but apparently 
was not relied upon as an Administration leader; 
he was somewhat dissociated from his party and 
could not play an important part for an administra 
tion which was drifting as he thought further and 
further from the "old Republican doctrines." Occu 
pying such a position relative to the Administration, 
he sustained a no less unique one towards the 
real leaders of Congress. Known for his almost 
parsimonious policy on the score of public expendi 
ture, Clay and his brilliant but somewhat windy 
following of young orators could not count on 
Macon in anything. His interpretation of the Con 
stitution made any agreement with the "young 
Republicans" impossible. They tried to laugh him 
down, and they succeeded well enough in giving 
him the name of "old fogy" a name which certain 
classes in his own State delighted after his death to 
fix in the public memory concerning him. Not in 
the confidence of the President and out of harmony 
with the leaders of his own party, but supported 
almost unanimously in his own State, Macon s posi 
tion was one of absolute independence, just such as 
20 



306 NATHANIEL MACON. 

he had always desired to occupy; and his long and 
varied experience made him one of the most impor 
tant characters in the Senate. 

Monroe s first care after being securely seated in 
the President s chair, as has been suggested in 
another connection, was to become head of the whole 
nation. Any policy looking to this end could not 
but take prime notice of New England, torn as it 
was by faction and exasperated by a prolonged ex 
clusion of its representatives from the first places 
in the national councils. Monroe s original plan 
was to give each of the four sections of the country, 
East, Middle, West and South, one representative 
in his cabinet, New England getting first place, the 
West coming in for second honors, as custom then 
arranged things. John Quincy Adams, than whom 
there was no abler man for the place, was made Sec 
retary of State, thus being placed in line of promo 
tion for the presidency. Smith Thompson, of New 
York, was given the Navy Department, Clay the 
War, and Crawford, of Georgia, the Treasury. This 
gave every section at least one position, leaving the 
Attorney- and Postmaster-Generals still to be named. 
This would have made a representative and an 
exceedingly able cabinet. 1 But Clay s ambition 
would not admit of his accepting anything but the 
first place; he was aggrieved at Adams precedence 
and he declined all Monroe s overtures. Since the 
plan of giving Massachusetts what the President s 
sense of fair play suggested did not please the Ken 
tucky statesman, he preferred the position of 
Speaker of the House where he felt himself almost 
absolute, and from which vantage ground he ex 
pected to upset the plans of the Administration in 
regulating the succession in 1824 at the expiration 

i Schouler, III., 13-14. 



IN THE U. S. SENATE), 1815-1828. 307 

of Monroe s allotted two terms. Clay intended to 
appeal to the people against the President. His 
means of winning the people was the House of Rep 
resentatives. There was no reason why the Repre 
sentatives, going back to their districts every few 
months to laud to the skies the man whom they ele 
vated to the speakership time after time with almost 
unanimous vote, should not win or him the desired 
precedence over Adams. This was a promising 
scheme in the majority of states, especially since 
there seemed to be a mutual understanding between 
the Virginia and Massachusetts politicians that the 
presidency was an office to which other states need 
not aspire; and Clay felt that he was just the man 
to carry it out a similar game in national politics 
to that which Andrew Jackson played against Clay 
in 1832, with results far different for the initiators. 
It was the selection of issues which decided the 
contest, not so much the man, though there never 
was a more popular man than Clay at several periods 
of his almost wonderful life. 

Monroe threw down the gauntlet in December, 
1817; it was his open declaration in the annual mes 
sage that Clay might expect a veto if he brought 
forward a second time his favorite Internal Im 
provements bill, rumors of which were thick about 
Washington before Congress assembled. Henry 
Clay did not hesitate to accept the challenge. St. 
George Tucker, of Virginia, whose name meant 
something for the success of the Speaker s plan, 
brought in a bill almost identical with the one 
vetoed by Madison less than a year before. 1 The 
House was led at once into a long and envenomed 
debate on a bill which every one knew could not 
pass over the President s veto, there appearing some- 

1 cf. Schurz Life of Henry Clay, I., 142 on. 



308 NATHANIEL MACON. 

what to Clay s surprise stronger opposition to inter 
nal improvements than had characterized the last 
Congress. It appears that the Speaker, interpret 
ing the decisions of the Supreme Court, which John 
Marshall had made popular as well as great in the 
case of Martin vs. Hunter s Lessee, of the year 
1816, and other similar decisions, and the attitude of 
the young Republicans North and S6uth, to point 
to latitudinarian construction of the Constitution as 
the coming popular view, was willing to stake every 
thing on this fight. It began March 6, 1818, and 
continued about three weeks. Clay showed himself 
imperious and overbearing, and though he carried 
his measure it weakened instead of strengthened 
him in the nation. 1 He put himself in the same 
position relative to Monroe s administration that 
John Randolph placed himself in :8o6- o7 towards 
that of Jefferson and with similar motives. 

The North Carolina delegation voted against the 
Clay-Tucker resolutions ten to two. The erratic 
Lemuel Sawyer, again in Congress from the Eden- 
ton section, made the most sensible and vigorous 
speech of his life in opposition to the Speaker in 
this personal war on the Executive. George Mum- 
ford, of Rowan, and Jesse Slocumb, of Wayne, were 
the two members who voted for internal improve 
ments. 

When the Senate met and organized it showed at 
once that the President would be supported heartily. 
No trouble was made about Executive appointments 
and the standing committees were put under the 
leadership of men who were friendly to the Admin 
istration. James Barbour, of Virginia, became 
Chairman of the committee on Foreign Relations, 

1 Annals of Congress, isth Cong,, ist Sess., 1114-1402. 



IN THE: u. s. SENATE, 1815-1828. 309 

with Macon as his first associate; the committee on 
Finance was headed by George W. Campbell, of Ten 
nessee, Macon being a member of this committee 
also. Barbour, Campbell and Macon were all deci 
dedly enough opposed to the war in the House. In 
fact before the standing committees were appointed 
Barbour introduced a resolution in the Senate call 
ing for an amendment to the Constitution to enable 
Congress to appropriate funds to public improve 
ments. 1 Barbour had voted for the Internal Im 
provements bill of the last Congress, believing it 
to be legitimate and not unconstitutional ; but he 
was unwilling, now that Monroe had expressed 
openly his scruples as to the constitutionality of such 
a measure, to embarrass the Administration; "The 
present Chief Magistrate has very frankly and prop 
erly disclosed his opinion, and decided it (the pro 
posed Clay bill) unconstitutional. The impractica 
bility of passing it, with this impediment, through 
Congress must be palpable. Indeed I do not know 
that it is desirable that it should be. It is better, 
perhaps, in all cases of doubt, to recur to the peo 
ple the only original and only legitimate fountain 
of power." 2 This was somewhat strange language 
for such a progressive young Republican as Bar 
bour had been in the last Congress. If it does not 
show a change of heart it at least shows that as a 
leader -of the Senate he did not propose to allow 
that body to be drawn into Clay s contest with the 
Executive. The resolution which Barbour intro 
duced was referred to a special committee composed 
of Barbour, Lacock, Macon and Eppes. The com 
mittee did no more than submit the original Barbour 
resolution again which was indefinitely postponed 

* Annals of Congress, isth Cong., Sess., L, 21-22. 
2 Annals of Congress, isth Cong., I., 22. 



310 NATHANIEL MACON. 

by a vote of twenty-two to nine, Barbour and 
Macon voting against postponement. 1 The House 
Internal Improvements bill, and consequent debate, 
never reached the Senate. Macon heartily favored 
the Barbour amendment, thus definitely defining the 
powers of the National Government on this subject, 
since so fruitful of public waste and extravagance. 
He wrote a friend 2 in North Carolina a full exposi 
tion of his views on the subject. This paper has 
been lost, but his accompanying letter contains the 
following language : 3 "If Congress can make canals 
they can with more propriety emancipate. Be not 
deceived. I speak soberly in the fear of God and 
the love of the Constitution. Let not love of im 
provements or a thirst for glory blind that sober 
discretion and sound sense with which the Lord has 
blessed you. Paul was not more anxious or sin 
cere concerning Timothy than I am for you. Your 
error in this will injure if not destroy our beloved 
mother, North Carolina, and all the South country. 
* * Be not led astray by grand notions or mag 
nificent opinions ; remember you belong to a meek 
state and just people, who want nothing but to 
enjoy the fruits of their labor honestly and to lay 
out their profits in their own way." 

These significant statements furnish the key, were 
one needed, to Macon s policy in 1820. To read 
into the Constitution powers not specifically granted 
meant to him to set out on the road which led 
directly to the emancipation of slaves. It would 
"ruin North Carolina and all the South country." 
Yancey was inclined to follow the young Republi- 

i Annals of Congress, i5th Cong., Vol. I., 292. 

Macon to Bartlett Yancey, April 15, 1818. 

3 Yancey had been requested to send him his opinion on the subject 
while the Senate committee was discussing it Yancey had given an 
opinion favorable to the constitutionality of Clay s doctrines. 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1815-1828. 311 

cans. Macon desired to point out to him the error 
of his way an error which most of the brilliant 
young Southerners, Calhoun for example, freely 
confessed later in our political history. 

The persistent efforts of Clay in keeping up oppo 
sition to the Executive in another matter, that of 
recognizing the South American Republics, only 
kept the House in a turmoil; the subject was not 
so much as mentioned in the Senate at this session. 
This was not true in the country generally. As in 
all such instances public sympathy ran high, found 
expression among Representatives and greatly dis 
turbed the President in his cooler, more deliberate 
policy. Macon s attitude toward all these questions 
was one of "hands off," except in reference to Flor 
ida, which again came to be much discussed because 
of the Amelia Island controversy. In consequence 
of a revolt in East Florida Amelia Island had gained 
the protection of our government j many Americans 
had gone there seeking what fortune there was to 
be won. Spain, too feeble to settle her difficulties 
in South America, was entirely unable to restore 
order in Florida. A chronic state of anarchy thus ex 
isted on our Southern borders, and Adams, with the 
hearty support of Calhoun, who had accepted the 
war portfolio which Clay declined, was doing his 
utmost to bring about annexation and thus close the 
question. The fear of strengthening the slave- 
holding States to the disadvantage of the free 
States did not influence the broad-minded Secretary 
of State. For Macon the annexation of Florida 
was an old desire dating back to 1803, when he had 
advised Jefferson to do whatever lay in his power 
to purchase Florida along with Louisiana. He 
shows his insight into the real difficulties of the 



312 NATHANIEL MACON. 

situation in a letter to Yancey February 8, 1818: 
"It seems probable that we may find ourselves in 
possession of all or nearly all Florida without being 
at war with Spain or having waited on her perform 
ing the treaty stipulation 1 concerning the Indians. 
I am not acquainted with the intentions of the 
Execuive relative to Amelia Island. * * * It is 
believed that circumstances justified driving the 
Army and company from Amelia, but this justifica 
tion may be destroyed by improperly holding pos 
session." This was not very urgent language for 
one who had long desired to see Florida made an 
American territory. It shows Macon s disposition 
to do strict justice or, at least, when this seemed a 
difficult thing to determine, to proceed very cau 
tiously. So when Jackson a year later presented 
his fait accompli, he heartily disapproved of the 
General s unwarranted proceedings, and in most 
characteristic language: "The Constitution gives 
Congress the sole authority to declare war ; war 
has been waged and every act of sovereign 
power exercised without the consent of Congress. 
The constitution has been violated and I am for the 
Constitution rather than for man." 2 More than a 
year elapsed before the tardy Spanish Minister 
could be brought to terms on the Florida question. 
Adams was hastening matters as much as possible. 
Macon became impatient: "The Spanish minister 
had not yesterday (April 18, 1820), I believe, given 
any proof what he would do or what he expects 
from the U. S. It is probable he wishes to make 
a flourish or two before he declares his ultimatum." 
He was delighted a short while afterwards to see 

1 A. guarantee that peace among the border Indians and white adven 
turers should be maintained. 

2 Macon to Bartlett Yancey, February 7, 1819. 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1815-1828. 313 

Florida annexed to the "South Country" whose 
extension he begins now to desire much more 
warmly than in former years. 

Macon began in 1818 to express his fears that a 
great struggle over slavery was pending. When he 
wrote Ya.ncey that the passage of a bill granting 
money for internal improvements made possible a 
bill for the emancipation of the negroes, he desired 
rB put North Carolinians on their guard, and not 
simply North Carolinians, but all Southerners. 
"The South Country will be ruined," was his expres 
sion. He wrote a little later: "We have abolition, 
colonization, bible and peace societies ; their conten 
tions can not be known, but the character and spirit 
of one may without injustice be considered that of 
all it is a character and spirit of perseverance bor 
dering on enthusiasm. And if the general govern 
ment shall continue to stretch their powers, these 
societies will undoubtedly push them to try the 
question of emancipation. I have written very 
freely to you, and it is intended for you alone. 
Under a fair and honest construction of the consti 
tution the negro property is safe and secure. Besides 
the subjects before mentioned, we can not forget 
that the Sedition act was declared constitutional by 
the U. S. Courts. The states having no slaves 
may not feel as strongly as the states having slaves 
about stretching the constitution, because no such 
interest is to be touched by it. The camp that is 
not always guarded may be surprised; and the 
people [who] do not watch their rulers may be 
enslaved. Too much confidence is the ruin of 
both." 1 

The fear of a long contest which Macon felt in 
1818 proved not unfounded in 1820. In fact, both 

Macon to Bartlett Yancey, March 8, 1818. 



314 NATHANIEL MACON. 

Northern and Southern leaders began to foresee 
that the great question before the American people 
would be that of slavery. The American Coloniza 
tion Society, for which Macon felt no sympa 
thy, was an expression of the uneasiness of the 
South. Madison, Monroe and Clay encouraged its 
work which was to advocate and foster a spirit of 
emancipation in the South and wherever possible to 
transport the freed blacks to Liberia in westei*i 
Africa. Repeated attempts on the part of the North 
ern border Stafes at ridding themselves of the duty 
of assisting in the return of fugitive slaves to their 
masters were made. 1 Since 1808 the African slave 
trade had nominally ceased ; but in fact it was con 
tinued in such a bold way that Congress finally 
(1820) passed a law making the slave trade piracy. 2 
The partial closing of the African slave trade and 
the ever-increasing demand for cotton and tobacco, 
staple exports of the South, so increased the de 
mand for negro labor that Virginia and in part 
North Carolina and Maryland became breeding 
grounds for the more Southern and Southwestern 
States. Washington, Norfolk and Richmond became 
important slave markets. 3 And again the method 
of pairing a slave with a free State whenever the 
territories were admitted into the Union shows both 
the determination and ability of the Northen people 
to limit the spread of slavery. The North had a 
population six hundred thousand greater than the 
South ; and the next distribution of Representatives 
would give her an advantage of thirty-six members 
in the House. 

The fight opened in the House in 1818 when a 

1 Annals of Congress, isth Cong., Vol. I., 225 on. 

2 Annals of Congress, isth Cong., Vol. I., 97 on. 

3 See letter of Thomas Ritchie to his brother, Branch Historical Pa 
pers, II., 153. 



IN THE u. s. SENATE, 1815-1828. 315 

bill for the territorial organization of Arkansas was 
presented. The partisans of slavery rallied every 
Southern vote on the question, submitted by Tay 
lor, of New York, whether slavery should not be 
forever excluded from the new territory ; and a bill 
limiting the extension of slavery was passed and 
sent to the Senate, which body struck out the anti- 
slavery clause by a vote of thirty-one to seven. On the 
nefct day Burril, of Rhode Island, made an attempt 
to get a reconsideration favorable to the abolition of 
slavery but failed by a vote of only nineteen to four 
teen a vote which shows the real strength of the 
two sections of the country in the Senate as the 
new anti-slavery clause was to be less agressive than 
the former. The pro-slavery party won because 
of the absence of Van Dyke and Horsey, of Dela 
ware, Hunter, of Rhode Island, and by the votes of 
Ohio and Indiana. The modified bill was returned 
to the House just before the close of the session 
when a motion to reconsider the bill failed by the 
Speaker s vote. 1 There is no record of a speech on 
this subject by Macon. 

This whole movement was the outcome of the 
desire on the part of Missouri and the South in 
general to make a state of the present territory of 
Missouri, leaving the southern part of the original 
territory as a basis for still another slave state a 
few years later. During the ensuing spring and 
summer public opinion was wrought up to the 
highest pitch either for or against the admission of 
Missouri, that is, for or against the extension of 
slavery. A grand convention composed of promi 
nent men from all parts of the North assembled in 
Philadelphia in October; and in the Eastern and 
Middle States indignation meetings were held, in all 

i For the Senate s action in this, see Annals of Congress, isth Cong., 
2d Ses.o., 272-274. 



316 NATHANIEL MACON. 

of which resolutions were drawn up and passed 
memorializing the next Congress on the subject of 
slavery. Going back to pre-revolutionary practices, 
committees of correspondence were established. 
Excitement ran so high that party lines could not be 
maintained; Jeffersonian republicans and Hamil 
ton federalists cooperated now in pushing forward 
a veritable crusade against Southern expansion. 

The South responded with equal determination 
to this onslaught against one of its fundamental 
institutions. Crawford, of Georgia, looking to the 
successorship in the White House, already proposed 
to lead; but a leadersnip that would win Northern 
votes was necessary. He could not therefore speak 
out his opinion ; the South could not elect him to the 
presidency. Then the Southern States, through 
their legislatures, following the example of Virginia, 
took up the burning question. This brought most 
of the young Republicans who had formerly voted 
with Clay and enlisted under his banner back to the 
strict construction doctrines of the old Republicans 
whom Randolph and Macon led, though only in 
these particular policies. Pinckney, of Maryland, 
was the great leader and champion of Missouri on 
the platform; while the celebrated Thomas Ritchie 
made the Richmond Enquirer the champion of the 
States Rights doctrines based on the Virginia and 
Kentucky resolutions of 1798. Richmond, pro 
phetic of her later destiny, was made the storm- 
center of the South. 

Before Congress came together in December, 
1819, Massachusetts, ready now to make great sac 
rifice in order to regain her former leadership, had 
arranged a scheme by which to balance once more 
an additional slave state. Maine was the sacrifice. 
It was cut off from the old state and, without pass- 



IN THE; u. s. SENATE, 1815-1828. 317 

ing through the territorial probation hitherto cus 
tomary, a memorial from its representatives was 
presented to the Senate on the very heels of the 
President s message, asking admission into the 
Union. Missouri knocked a second time at the 
Senate s door on the same day. But two days 
before the President had submitted the application 
of Alabama, which was immediately referred to a 
committee whose report was favorable, and on the 
8th of December, the date of the Maine memorial, 
was admitted into the Union as a slave state. This 
restored the balance, leaving the new Florida acqui 
sition as a balance in favor of the South in future 
contests. The House, already won to the anti- 
slavery influence, hastened through a bill for the 
admission of Maine; but the Senate, still controlled 
by pro-slavery men, refused to admit Maine with 
out Missouri. In the discussion which arose over 
this balancing of the two proposed states, Macon 
made a longer speech than usual: "The appearance 
of the Senate to-day is different from anything I 
have seen since I became a member of it." He 
then reviewed the history of the admission of new 
states and outlined in an able manner what he 
regarded as absolutely essential to the peace and 
happiness of the country. "But," said he, "the 
true reason of the objection to the admission of 
Missouri is the principle to which gentlemen have 
alluded and which has made so much noise out of 
doors. I confess that on this question I have felt 
more anxiety than on any other lately presented to 
my view. It may be a matter of philosophy and 
abstraction with the gentlemen of the East, but it 
is a different thing with us. They may philosophize 
and hold town meetings about it as much as they 
please; but, with great submission, sir, they know 



318 NATHANIEL MACON. 

nothing* about the question." 1 Otis, of Massachu 
setts followed Macon and referred to him in a way 
which shows clearly enough the respect accorded 
him even by the greatest of his opponents, and it 
also testifies to Macon s own uneasiness of mind on 
this occasion: "With others (members of the Sen 
ate) a longer acquaintance has ripened into real 
friendship; and for my old friend above me 
(Macon), I profess a sincere affection and respect 
(inspired by a long experience of his honorable 
character), though we have formerly broken to 
gether many a political lance, and I am sorry to dis 
cern in him symptoms of wounded or excited feel 
ings on the present occasion." 2 

In the midst of the debate, Thomas, of Indiana, 
who had voted against the slavery clause in the 
former Missouri bill, proposed a substitute which 
became famous as the great compromise of 1820. 
It provided for the admission of Missouri as a slave 
state stipulating at the same time that slavery was 
to be forever afterwards prohibited in the Louisiana 
territory west and north of the new state, that is, 
north of the parallel 36 degrees 40 seconds north 
latitude. This fixed a definite line which was to be 
regarded as the boundary between the two great sec 
tions of the country. In the East it was to be the old 
.Mason and Dixon s line between Maryland and 
Pennsylvania, thence up the western boundary of 
Pennsylvania to the Ohio, thence along that river to 
the Mississippi, up the Mississippi to the northern 
boundary of Missouri, then the northern boundary of 
Missouri to the limits of the state where it dropped 
directly south to the parallel above mentioned. It 
might appear at first that this substitute, should it 

1 Annals of Congress, i6th Cong., ist Sess., I., 97-99. 

2 Annals of Congress, i6th Cong., ist Sess., I, in. 



IN THE: u. s. SENATE, 1815-1828. 319 

pass, would be a genuine compromise; but viewed 
more carefully it could only be a great victory for 
the anti-slavery party. In addition to Missouri it 
proposed to give the pro-slavery section the small 
part of the original Louisiana purchase, not quite 
equivalent to that now embraced in Oklohoma and 
the Indian Territories, while the anti-slavery sec 
tion was to get all the public lands now embraced in 
the State of Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, 
South and North Dakota, and about half of Colo 
rado, Wyoming, and Montana. The North was to 
gain ten times as much as the South. 

It is significant that Illinois made this proposition 
and that the old Northwest voted in the main with 
the South in this contest. Still public opinion in 
that section was strongly anti-Southern. 1 But the 
Thomas substitute was held back for some time in 
the hope that the Roberts amendment, abolishing 
slavery in Missouri itself, then under discussion, 
might pass. There was great excitement in Wash 
ington and angry threats were constantly being 
made. 

It was at this stage that Macon made his well- 
known speech. 2 Only an outline of his argument 
will be given here. Beginning by repeating the 
opening remark of a previous speaker, that this was 
the most important debate ever held in the United 
States, that it required therefore to be discussed 
with the utmost coolness and deliberation, yet he 
had heard a great many hard sayings from gentle 
men on the other side : "We have been told by 
the honorable gentleman from Pennsylvania (Low- 
rie), that he would prefer disunion rather than 
slaves should be carried west of the Mississippi. 

1 See speech of Senator Edwards of Illinois, Annals of Congress, i6th 
Cong., ist Sess., I., 187. 

2 See Peele s Distinguished North Carolinians. 



320 NATHANIEL MACON. 

Age may have rendered me timid or education may 
have caused me to attach greater blessings to the 
Union and the Constitution than they deserve." ( I ) 
He then goes on to show the practical impossibility 
of ever getting the once severed Union back together 
again, and to lament the tendency of Senators to 
speak lightly of disunion. The second point he 
made was that the passage of the Thomas amend 
ment would produce "geographical parties," against 
which Washington had warned us, whose council 
seemed not to avail any thing any longer. "But 
party and patriotism are not always the same 
thing. Town meetings and resolutions to inflame 
one .part of the nation against another can never 
benefit the people, though they may gratify an indi 
vidual. * * * A child may set the woods on fire, 
but it requires great exertions to extinguish it. This 
now very great question was but a spark at the last 
session." (2) On the question of the rights of the old 
states in the lands beyond the Mississippi, he said: 
"All the states now have equal rights and all are 
content. Deprive one of the least right which it 
now enjoys in common with the others and it will 
no longer be content. * * * All the new states have 
the same rights that the old have ; why make Mis 
souri an exception? why depart in her case from 
the great American principle that the people can 
govern themselves? All the country west of the 
Mississippi was acquired by the same treaty, and on 
the same terms and the people in every part have the 
same rights. * * * The amendment will operate 
unjustly to the people who have gone there from 
the other states. They carried with them property 
[slaves] guaranteed by their states, by the Consti 
tution and by treaty ; they purchased lands and 
settled on them without molestation; but now. un- 



IN THE u. s. SENATE:, 1815-1828. 321 

fortunately for them, it is discovered that they 
ought not to have been permitted to carry a single 
slave. Is this just, in a Government of Law, sup 
ported only by opinion for it is not pretended that 
it is a Government of force? (3) Bad policy: 
"A wise legislature will always consider the charac 
ter, condition and feeling of those to be legislated 
for. * * In all questions like the present in the 
United States, the strong may yield to the weak 
without disgrace even in their own opinion; the 
weak can not, hence the propriety of not attempting 
to pass this new condition on the people of Missouri. 
Let the United States abandon this new scheme; 
let their magnanimity, and not their power, be felt 
by the people of Missouri. The attempt to govern 
too much has produced every civil war that ever has 
been, and will, probably, every one that ever may 
be. All governments, whatever their form, want 
more power and more authority, and all the governed 
want less government." He then points out the 
effects of this unwise policy, citing the American 
Revolution as a parallel to the war which might 
ensue if Missouri were dealt such a blow as was 
intended by the Roberts amendment. Good policy 
demanded that the powerful party deal justly by 
the apparently weaker party. "Let me not be mis 
understood as wishing or intending to create any 
alarm as to the intentions of the people of Missouri. 
I know nothing of them. But in examining the 
question, we ought not to forget our own history, 
nor the character of those who settle on our fron 
tier. Your easy-going, chimney-corner people, the 
timid and fearful, never move to them. They stay 
where there is no danger from an Indian, or any 
other wild beast. It is the bravest of the brave and 
the boldest of the bold .who venture there " Then 
21 



322 NATHANIEL MACON. 

follow some paragraphs which show a clear under 
standing of the character of our backwoodsmen and 
the importance of the border states. 

He then changes the tone of his speech pointing 
out the dangers towards which this new political 
road leads: "Why depart from the good old way? 
Why leave the road of experience to take this new 
one, of which we have no experience? The way 
leads to universal emancipation, of which we have 
no experience. The Eastern and Middle States 
furnish none. For years before they emancipated 
they had but few [slaves], and of these a part were 
sold to the South, before they emancipated. * * * 
A clause in the declaration of independence has 
been read, declaring that all men are created free 
and equal. Follow that sentiment, and does it not 
lead to universal emancipation? If it will justify 
putting an end to slavery in Missouri, will it not 
justify it in the old states? Suppose the plan fol 
lowed, and all the slaves turned loose, and the 
Union to continue, is it certain that the present 
Constitution would last long? Because the rich 
would, in such circumstances, want titles and heredi 
tary distinctions ; the negro food and raiment. They 
would be as much or more degraded, than in their 
present condition. * * * Take the most favorable 
[view] which can be supposed, that no convulsion 
ensue from a liberation of the negroes, also 
that the whites and the blacks do not marry and 
produce mulatto states, will not the whites be com 
pelled to move and leave their land and houses, leave 
the country to the blacks ? And are you willing to 
have black members of Congress? What is the 
condition of the blacks in the free states, especially 
in the large cities? Do the whites and the blacks 
intermarry ? If they do, are not the whites degraded 



IN THE: u. s. SENATE, 1815-1828. 323 

by it, are the blacks in the learned professions of law 
and physic? If they are degraded, where there 
are so few, what will be the consequence when they 
are equal in number or nearly so ? It may be stated, 
without fear of contradiction, that there is no place 
for the blacks in the United States no place where 
they are not degraded. If there was such a place, 
the society for colonizing them would not have 
been formed, their benevolent design never known. 
A country wanting inhabitants, and a society formed 
to colonize a part of them, prove there is no place 
for them." Aside from Macon s defense of slavery 
as the better condition of an inferior race in the 
presence of a superior, and from his constant refer 
ences to the Constitution which guaranteed the 
South all the rights she claimed, these form the 
gist of this second ablest of all his addresses in 
Congress. 1 

After a month s debate and much disagreement 
between the two Houses the Thomas substitute was 
passed on March 3, 1820. Macon opposed the 
bill in all its phases to the last. It was to him 
what the Alien and Sedition Laws of 1798 had been 
violation of the Constitution and a far more dan 
gerous violation than had ever before been sanc 
tioned. He said of its advocates a few days after 
the compromise passed : "They will, no doubt, push 
it with a view to form new parties on the principle 
of slave or no slave. It is the only hope left them 
by which to get power; and power gives offices 
which are much in demand, and which members of 
Congress now ask the President for, at least so I am 
told, and so I ^believe." 2 And again to the same 

i Annals of Congress, :6th Cong., ist Sess., I., 219-232. I have quoted 
Macon somewhat freely, making slight changes at one or two poms for 
the sake of clearness. AUTHOR. 

* Macon to Bartlett Yancey, April 14, 1820. 



324: NATHANIEL MACON. 

correspondent, June 20, 1820, he wrote: "Much 
electioneering for the presidency ("shy-hogging/ 
he called it) was done and more openly about the 
Missouri compromise than I ever saw before. I 
have no doubt, it would not have taken place, had 
not the Administration and the supposed leaders of 
those opposed to it, declared in favor of it, after the 
failure of Stone s motion, which would have given 
two degrees more to the people of the South. I 
have no desire for any place and I shall attend the 
next session of Congress, because the Missouri ques 
tion may return on the admission of the state into 
the Union. If Holmes and Hill should be elected 
Senators from Maine, they will strengthen the Sen 
ate on the question, which is now believed to be 
strong enough for admission ; but [their] election 
may weaken the House." 

As was suggested in Macon s letter to Yancey 
the Missouri question did come up again. While 
Congress was engaged in the Missouri debate, and 
during the interval between the passage of the Com 
promise and the assembling of the Missouri consti 
tutional convention new-comers were arriving in the 
disputed territory, some from the South determined 
to have a share in fixing slavery forever in the 
new state, others from the North hoping by some 
means to contravene both the will of the majority in 
Missouri and the acts of Congress. The Conven 
tion met in June and declared that slavery should be 
established in that state by constitutional provi 
sion, and that the State legislature should not have 
the right to abolish it, and secondly that the legis 
lature should pass a law forbidding all free negroes 
from settling in the state. The victory was won 
so far as the new state was concerned. 

But when Congress reassembled in November 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1815-1828. 325 

the Missouri constitution was submitted as a final 
step in the process of admission. The anti-slavery 
party knew that Maine was now safely in the 
Union; they had failed in winning their contest in 
Missouri; there remained the final joint resolution 
before Missouri Maine s balance mate, according 
to the understanding of both sides at the last ses 
sion could become a state. Maine s representa 
tives now had the right to vote on Missouri s admis 
sion ! The pro-slavery party in Missouri had gone 
a step too far in their victory. They had made it 
a part of their constitution that free negroes should 
not be allowed to live as citizens under its operation. 
This was plainly a violation of the constitution since 
citizens of some states could thus be denied ordi 
nary civil rights in that part of the country. The 
anti-slavery party, with King of New York, who 
hoped to make a party issue of this question and 
thereby at last "swing" himself into the presidency, 
prepared to defend their last ditch. Their chances 
were promising. Clay was not present at the open 
ing of Congress. To win the vacant Speakership 
became at once the goal of each party in the House. 
Lowndes, a "compromiser," was made the candi 
date of the South, since only he could hope to win 
votes enough at the North necessary for election ; 
Taylor, of New York, became the candidate of the 
anti-slavery party. After three days balloting, Tay 
lor was elected. 1 This gave assurance that Mis 
souri would not be admitted. Clay came into the 
House in time to urge adherence to the great Com 
promise of the last session on condition that the Mis 
souri legislature give a solemn promise that free 
negroes should not be excluded from the state as 

1 Annals of Congress, i6th Cong., 2d Sess., 435-438. 

2 Schouler, III., 176-186. 



326 NATHANIEL MACON. 

citizens. At first he failed; but a month later he 
succeeded in getting a joint committee of twenty- 
three members which finally agreed to his plan. 

Macon took no part in the Senate debate on the 
various resolutions presented for the third settle 
ment of the Missouri controversy. When Clay s 
resolution from the joint committee came before the 
Senate he was absent and so he did not offer his 
single protest against it. But when the final vote 
on the admission according to the joint resolution 
passed, he voted with thirteen others in the nega 
tive. Among these was King, who thus saw the 
Kentuckian s compromise destroy his hopes for 
the presidency. Macon had voted against the reso 
lution because he maintained that no restrictions 
could be placed upon a sovereign state as to what 
class of men she should admit to citizenship. 1 His 
old friend Randolph was again in the House where 
he also voted against the Clay arrangement and on 
the same grounds. 

Macon s dissatisfaction concerning the settle 
ment of this question was evident. It comes to light 
in his correspondence during the remainder of his 
life. He believed with Randolph and his school of 
Southern extremists that the whole of the Louis 
iana purchase lands should have been left open to 
settlers from the South, and they were so strongly 
convinced of the necessity of this Southern expan 
sion that they readily excused the clause of the 
Missouri constitution which prohibited a citizen of 
Massachusetts from enjoying what the National 
Constitution guaranteed him equal rights with the 
citizens of other states. This extreme position, 
however, became the position of the whole South be 
fore 1850. 

i Annals of Congress, i6th Cong., 2d Sess., 388. 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1815-1828. 327 

The effect of the Compromise was for the 
South what Macon had predicted it would be for 
both sections, 1 consolidation in defence of or oppo 
sition to one issue, which consolidation bore its first 
fruits in 1828 and 1832. It brought Jefferson more 
actively into politics as a councilor than he had been 
in some years, and had its influence in giving the 
country the Democratic party as it is now known. 

Macon, it will be remembered, had not been on 
very intimate terms with Jefferson since their disa 
greement in 1806, though they kept up friendly rela 
tions. In 1815 the Governor of North Carolina 
(Miller) charged Macon with purchasing a statue 
of Washington to be erected in the rotunda of the 
capitol. 2 This commission gave Macon an oppor 
tunity to approach the sage of Monticello in a way 
which could not but be flattering to the latter. Jef 
ferson cheerfully responded and freely gave his 
advice about having a suitable statue made, which 
the people of North Carolina gladly followed, and a 
handsome piece of work by the celebrated Conova 
was purchased. 3 But no regular correspondence 
followed until 1819, when the signs of the times 
were pointing to the Missouri controversy. Macon 
wrote Jefferson in the early days of the year asking 
advice on the public questions of the day. To 
which Jefferson responded, still professing great 
confidence in those who were in power, "I willingly 
put both soul and body into their hands. While 
such men as yourself and. your worthy colleagues 
in the legislature and such characters as compose 
the Executive administration are watching for us 
all, I slumber without fear and review in my dreams 
the visions of antiquity." Yet a little further on he 

1 See letter of April 19, 1^20. 

2 See letter of Macon to Jefferson, Jan. 7, 1816, in Jefferson MSS. 

3 See Jefferson s letter of January 22, 1816, in Washington s Works of 
Jefferson. 



328 NATHANIEL MACON. 

joins Macon in his complaint against the manufac 
turing of paper money, which he called "filching 
from industry its honest earnings, wherewith to 
build up palaces and raise gambling stock for swind 
lers and shavers/ 1 And to show Jefferson s increas 
ing anxiety, a letter to John Adams, December 10, 
1819, is quoted: "The banks, bankrupt law, manu 
factures, Spanish treaty, are nothing. These are 
occurrences, which, like waves in a storm, will pass 
under the ship. But the Missouri question is a 
breaker on which we lose the Missouri country by 
revolt, and what more, God only knows. From the 
battle of Bunker Hill to the treaty of Paris, we 
never had so ominous a question. It even damps 
the joy with which I hear of your high health, and 
welcomes to me the consequences of my want of it. 
I thank God that I shall not live to witness its issue. 
Sed haec hactenus." This despondency character 
ized Jefferson s correspondence during the years 
immediately following, 2 and it led to a revival of the 
former intimacy between him and Macon, whose 
constant presence in Washington as a member of 
the Senate was to Jefferson a living link between 
him and the great days of 1800. Macon wrote 
Jefferson August 7, 1821, chiefly, as it seems, on the 
decisions of the United States courts, to which Jef 
ferson replies by sending Macon a copy of a letter 
to another friend which "I place in your hands as 
the Depository of old and sound principles and as 
a record of my protest against this parricide tribu 
nal. There are two measures which if not taken, 
we are undone. 1st. To check these unconstitu 
tional invasions of state rights by the federal judici 
ary. 2. To cease borrowing money, and to pay off 

1 Jefferson to Macon, January 12, 1819 unpublished. 

2 See Jefferson to Hugh Nelson, March 12, 1820, in Ford s Writings of 
Jefferson. 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1815-1828. 329 

the national debt." The first he proposed should 
be done by constantly recurring protests from Con 
gress against the decisions of the Supreme Court, 
and the second was to be accomplished by reducing 
the army and by putting the navy out of commission 
altogether if necessary. November 20, 1821, we 
have still another expression of his sentiments to 
Macon: "Our government is now taking so steady 
a course as to show by what road it will pass to 
destruction, to-wit, by consolidation first, and then 
by corruption, its necessary consequence. The 
engine of consolidation will be the Federal judiciary, 
the two other branches the corrupted and corrupting 
agencies. I fear an explosion in our state legisla 
ture. 1 

At the same time a lively war of pamphlets and 
speech-making was carried on. John Taylor wrote 
a book on the Constitution of the United States 
which was widely circulated in Virginia. But 
Macon feared ; "it is too late for [it] to do the great 
majority of the people good ; too many persons have 
lived so long and so well on the public debt and 
bank stock and by bank and other swindling, that it 
will be almost impossible for the honesty and indus 
try of the nation to get clear of them ; the newspa 
pers are generally on the paper and idle side and 
they are generally as much depreciated as the bank 
bills. The principles which turned the federalists 
out of power are not fashionable at Washington, 
nor is there much probability of their being 
shortly." 2 

Macon believed it was the deliberate purpose of 
the Northern states to draw on Southern resources 
in every way possible, never allowing anything to 
return thither in the form of National expenditures. 

1 Ford s Writings of Jefferson, X., 193-194. 

2 Macon to Jefferson. 



330 NATHANIEL MACON. 

Nearly all the federal taxes collected there (in 
the South) are paid for the interest of the public 
debt (owned by Northern capitalists) or laid out to 
the North of the James river, hence the constant 
drain of money from these states to the U. S. bank. 
This is not strictly chargeable to the bank, because, 
whether that existed or not, the money could still 
be drawn as it now is. It operates like a balance 
of trade almost equal to the amount of the national 
revenue there collected." 1 And it was likewise his 
opinion that the Supreme Court was committed to 
the cause of consolidation and corruption already 
mentioned by Jefferson : "The plan of the federal 
court seems to keep pace with Congress. The deci 
sions do not go beyond the system of internal im 
provements, which has often been before the 
National legislature and received the sanction of 
both branches. As Congress attempts to get power 
by stretching the Constitution to fit its views, it is 
to be expected, if the other departments do not 
check them, that each of them will use the same 
means to obtain power and thus destroy any check 
that was intended by the division of power into 
three distinct and separate bodies." 2 

Still another letter from Jefferson, October 10, 
1823, introducing a friend, says : "His political prin 
ciples are yours and mine, and proposing a visit to 
Washington he naturally wishes to be known to 
one so long and so prominent in the school of genu 
ine republicanism. It gives me the occasion of re 
calling myself to your recollection and of assuring 
you that time has not changed nor ever will change 
towards you my constant affection and friendly 
attaint and respect." 3 

1 Macon to Bartlett Yancey, December 12, 1821. 

2 Macon to Jefferson, February 2, 1822. 

3 From the Macon Papers. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE 1820-1828. 
II. 

Following the plenteous years of 1817-1819 there 
came, as is customary, years of scarcity. In 1820 
the National Government borrowed three million 
dollars with which to pay current expenses; the 
next year five millions were necessary, and all this 
in time of peace. The country had been flooded 
with paper money insufficiently secured. A spirit 
of speculation, starting from the years when Con 
gress was at its wits end to know what to do with 
the surplus in the treasury, had continued until 
individuals, corporations and states all became bor 
rowers for purposes of extravagant speculation. 
More than twenty-three millions were due the Na 
tional Government for public lands taken up on the 
instalment plan ; the debtors were unable to pay. The 
demand for Western and new lands had been so 
great that land in the old states was next to worth 
less; the accumulated wealth of the country had 
been squandered to such an extent in uncertain 
enterprises that the first shock brought financial 
stagnation. Imports fell off at once; the Govern 
ment receipts were less than its expenditures, and 
when a loan was asked a very high rate of interest 
was demanded. 1 A sad reminder of these distress 
ing times is Jefferson s appeal to the Virginia legis 
lature for the privilege of disposing of Monticello 
by lottery in order to get something like its value. 
A comparatively small debt had thus engulfed him. 

i Schouler, III., 190-192. 



332 NATHANIEL MACON. 

He said in a letter to a friend that he should have to 
end his days in a cabin on his small plantation in 
Bedford county unless his petition were granted. 
This was not done. Through the generosity of 
friends in New York the auctioneer s hammer was 
stayed until a few months after his death when that 
magnificent estate was sold for less than enough to 
satisfy pressing creditors. 

These alarming condition? caused great uneasi 
ness and had no small influence in the formation of 
new party lines, particularly in compacting the 
leaders of the South in a defensive organization 
directed against all measures looking to internal 
improvements or high tariffs, for these were asso 
ciated not unnaturally by the people of that section 
with the present ills of the country. These ill?, 
bore harder, too, on the older Southern states than 
on any other part of the Union owing to the con 
stant drain on them in the building up of Alabama 
and the Southwest, and more especially because of 
the unequal operation of the tariff laws. Retrench 
ment and reform became the cry of a compact party 
of Southern congressmen even during the agitation 
of the Missouri question. Macon and Randolph 
consistent with the traditions of their party, led 
the movement in the two Houses : Macon summed 
up the difficulties confronting Monroe at the end 
of his first term, charging him with having deserted 
his party in seeking to gain the support of New 
England, 1 with having squandered six millions of 
the public money, with then making an immediate 
demand on the treasury for twelve millions, with 
having decreased the public revenues and with hav- 

i " I suspect that Mr. Monroe begins to feel that he can not safely de 
pend on his new friends and old opponents to support his administra 
tion." Letter to Yancey, April 19, 1820. 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1820-1828, 333 

ing assisted the people at home to get heavily in 
debt. 1 

Notwithstanding these unfavorable conditions, 
Monroe need not have exerted himself to secure 
his second election. The principal aspirants to the 
office geared their machinery to fit the year 1824 
instead of 1820; and the people had long since 
agreed to give the leader of the "Era of Good Feel 
ing" a second term. So nowhere was there any 
organized opposition, and Monroe received all the 
votes of the electoral college save one. The old 
parties had gone to pieces; the political chieftains 
all belonging nominally in 1820 to one organization 
were putting themselves forward in their own ways 
to gain the public support, and before the adjourn 
ing of Congress in 1820 there were four candidates 
well advanced on the way towards 1824. Macon 
names them in the following order: "Of the great 
men at Washington, Crawford, I think, rather 
stands the highest, though not so high as he has 
done ; Adams has a few warm supporters, a part of 
them from local considerations and others for his 
violent defence of the attack of the Spanish forts 
in Florida 2 ; Calhoun stands well with the military, 
with the manufacturers not so well as formerly, and 
with those for internal improvements very high; 
Clay stands high with the two last mentioned 
[classes] ; King has, I think, lost ground with his 
party Pinckney s and Smith s replies to him on the 
Missouri bill lessened his reputation as a statesman, 
or rather his own speech did it." 3 

Macon had decided whom he should support in 
this long hurdle race for the Presidency before the 

1 " Add to that six million dollars he found in the treasury and nearly 
or quite twice as much wanted at this time and the present means likely 
to diminish and the people at home generally in debt." Ibid. 

2 He refers here to Jackson s unauthorized invasion of Florida. 

3 Macon to Yancey, June 20, 1820. 



334 NATHANIEL MACON. 

meeting of Congress in 1821. On the I2th of 
December, he wrote Yancey from Washington: 
"Already there is much talk here about who is to be 
the next President, and it is frequently asked who N. 
C. will support. My answer has been, Whoever 
was thought to be most republican and most econom 
ical. Unanimity in the South would give great 
weight to the man who may be there supported. I 
have said especially in the South, because nearly 
all the federal taxes collected there are paid for the 
interest of the public debt, or laid out north of the 
James River." He then betrays his decided prefer 
ence for Crawford, and by March of 1822, he is 
ferreting out every source of opposition to his can 
didate in North Carolina: "It is reported here that 
the Salisbury newspaper is out decidedly against C., 
and that some of our ex-members of Congress 
(Pearson, Henderson) are the same way. The oppo 
sition to him will be determined and violent; his 
friends ought not to expect that he will be elected 
and they be idle. You know all the men whose names 
have been mentioned for the next President, and 
that some of them are remarkable for their talents at 
shy-hogging (scheming), and never lose the oppor 
tunity of using them. The General Assembly at 
which the electors of President and Vice-President 
are named will be a very important one in North 
Carolina, and the members ought to be selected with 
a view to the Presidential electors." 1 Before the 
end of the session he is again putting his friends in 
North Carolina on their guard : "Calhoun was last 
summer in Pennsylvania, and will be this summer in 
the South. You know his talent by general obser 
vation for gaining on strangers. Several of our 

i Macon to Yancey, March 17, 1822. 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1820-1828. 335 

Representatives here are also for Calhoun, who will 
be in the Assembly at the proper time to recommend 
electors." He fears, too, that the Salisbury paper is 
advancing Calhoun s cause. During the next year 
Macon is constantly on the watch and directing how 
to serve Crawford, how to checkmate Adams, Cal 
houn and Clay. At one time the New England 
influences seem about to combine with Republican 
Pennsylvania to give Adams the first place in the 
race; at another Clay, or Calhoun, seems _ to be com 
bining the influences favorable to protection and the 
banks, and thus threatening to defeat Crawford. 
In February 1823, he fears that an investigation of 
the Treasury Department, under Crawford, 
prompted by the enemies of that candidate, may 
prejudice his cause. 1 This plan of injuring Craw 
ford began by a motion of Eaton, of Tennessee, to 
demand of the Secretary of the Treasury a state 
ment of the methods of that department in making 
loans. A branch of the National Bank had been 
established a short while before at Cumberland, Ten 
nessee, under circumstances which pointed to the 
improper use of public money. Crawford was sus 
pected of attempting thus to build up a party in that 
state favorable to himself and opposing Jackson,who 
begins suddenly to loom above the political horizon. 
Macon wrote his friend later that Crawford s 
chances had not been injured by this attack. 

At the beginning of the next session, December 
1823, Crawford had arranged his plans to have a 
Congressional caucus assemble early in the next 
year, and to have himself nominated as the regular 
candidate for the presidency. Macon had served 
the scheming Georgian faithfully, but this was too 
much for him. A caucus was one of the most dis- 

i Annals of Congress, lyth Cong., 2d Sess., 159-160. 



336 NATHANIEL, MACON. 

/ 

tasteful of political machines to him. At a great 
Republican harmony dinner in Philadelphia, Decem 
ber 27, 1823, Crawford was toasted as the friend of 
Nathaniel Macon; but this friendship was not 
enough to overcome Macon s dislike for the caucus. 
About this time the North Carolina Legislature held 
a similar meeting to that now proposed in Washing 
ton, and nominated Crawford. It was not unani 
mous, for the next day a large minority caucus was 
held in Raleigh, in which Calhoun was nominated. 1 
The friends of the latter candidate in that State tried 
to get a law passed which would give the selection 
of electors to the districts again. This failed, but 
only served to increase Calhoun s popularity. Sev 
eral other State legislatures held partisan caucuses 
favorable to Crawford, and then came the Congres 
sional caucus in Washington. It was set for Feb 
ruary 14, 1824. Great efforts were made to get 
Macon to attend. Yancey wrote urging him to lay 
aside his prejudice and give their favorite candidate 
this last token of his friendship. Gallatin was ap 
pealed to to use his influence with Macon. Gallatin 
yielded, and wrote Macon a long letter, but to no 
avail. Indeed, he seems to have cooled in his ardor 
for Crawford, for he replied to Yancey s letter: 
"if I attend [the caucus], might it not, nay would it 
not, be said that, after having refused more than 
20 years, and that too in the troublesome time of 
war and the Hartford Convention, that now in time 
of peace the principle or practice is changed, that 
the master intriguer is the first and only one who 
has been able to find and touch the chord which pro 
duced the change? A change at this time would 
give rise to suspicions that a promise or bargain 
had been made. If I have the national influence 

1 Richmond Enquirer, December 30, 1823. 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1820-1828. 337 

which you suppose, by what means has it been 
obtained? Not, I am sure, by pursuing the opin 
ions of others." 1 He refused to attend, and a great 
many other Crawford supporters remained at home 
that evening. The Richmond Enquirer considered 
this act of Macon s worthy of especial attention in 
its review of the meeting a few days later : "The 
venerable Nathaniel Macon, known to be for Craw 
ford, would not attend." The caucus was a lame 
affair; it was the last of this sort of Congressional 
usurpation. Macon had been, as he said, hood 
winked into one, but he was never caught a second 
time. His opinion as to how to get candidates regu 
larly before the voters of one s party was that the 
people themselves should be consulted by some 
means. How this should be done, he did not sug 
gest. The nominating conventions and primaries of 
the present had not been invented. 

At this session of Congress, 1823-1824, Jackson s 
chances grew more and more promising. Adams 
made efforts to enter into an alliance with the hero 
of New Orleans, offering him the Vice-Presidency. 
Jackson was not the man to take second place, so 
the brave and plucky New Englander was left to 
plod his difficult path alone. Calhoun, forecasting 
well the future, and being himself a young man, 
finally joined hands with the Tennesseean, accepting 
second place, with an understanding as to the 
future. This added to Jackson s influence the sup 
port of the young Republicans, who, Macon said, 
began a second time "to be the fashion" in Wash 
ington. Macon opposed this alliance as lustily as 
he had favored Crawford : "It is believed here, and 
some say known, that Calhoun has withdrawn from 
the contest, and that his friends will support Gen- 

i Macon to Yancey. December 23, 182;. 

22 



338 NATHANIEL MACON. 

eral Jackson. I have heard that the greatest exer 
tions are to be made for the General in North Caro 
lina ; that a meeting was to take place last Saturday 
in Warrenton to nominate him. When I left home, 
a great majority in the county appeared to be for 
Crawford, and I imagine are so yet. A meeting 
for the same purpose was to take place in Hills- 
boro." 1 A few weeks later he warns his friends 
against losing interest, "the Republicans should 
always be at their posts, power once lost is not easily 
regained" ; and on May 6, he says North Carolina 
would be canvassed that summer by William R. 
King, of Alabama, and John H. Eaton, of Tennes 
see, in favor of the Jackson-Calhoun ticket, which 
was much to Macon s disliking. 

Fate was not favorable to the "old Republicans/ 
who, though they had regained much of their for- 
I mer influence and were excellently organized, were 
destined to lose in their first fight after the Missouri 
battle. Crawford s health failed in the summer of 
1823 ; he retired, stricken with paralysis, to a coun 
try residence near Washington, where his bosom 
friends alone were allowed to see him. 2 Macon 
was one of these, and he constantly gave the public 
the most hopeful accounts of his friend s health, on 
which depended the hopes of his party. 3 It was 
a great disappointment to Macon that Crawford was 
thus disabled, for it lost him the Presidency. In 
North Carolina, where such a strong bias for Cal- 
houn as candidate for the first place had been shown, 
the people now turned readily to the support of the 
lackson ticket, on which the great South Carolin 
ian s name appeared second. The party machine with 

1 Macon to Yancey, February 24, 1824. 

2 Schouler, III., 305-306. 

3 Macon to Yancey, March 31, 1824. 



IN THE u. s. SENATE:, 1820-1828. 339 

which Macon was somewhat in accord, as has been 
seen, was set all out of gear when the news spread 
abroad that Crawford was paralyzed. No resistance 
could longer be made against the two most popular 
men in the South, the one for his daring military ca 
reer, the other on account of his ability and wonder 
ful personal magnetism. What determined Macon 
in his opposition to Jackson was the assumption of 
sovereign authority on the part of the latter in Flor 
ida a few years before ; and what he opposed in Cal- 
houn was his whole creed; Calhoun had voted in 
1816 for the second National Bank, he had advocated 
the passage of the Internal Improvements bill, which 
Madison had vetoed, and he was in accord with the 
demands of the Northern manufacturers for a high 
tariff. These things were enough, in Macon s eyes, 
to condemn forever any man aspiring to a position 
of public trust in the National government. But 
just these features of Calhoun s policy attracted 
strong support in the North Carolina of 1824, where 
there were many advocates of the so-called American 
system, and where the nucleus of the Whig party 
was already formed. When the election took place, 
North Carolina cast her full vote for Jackson and 
Calhoun. 1 No account of Macon s disappointment 
at the results of this election has been preserved. 
But it is evident that he was not in harmony with 
the majority in his State at that time. 

The contest was not decided, however, until after 
a long wrangle in Congress during the winter of 
1824-1825, when what appeared to be a popular ver 
dict was set aside by Clay, and the second highest 
on the list of candidates was elevated to the first 
place in the land. Macon failed also to leave on 
record his opinions on the subject of Adams election 

* cf, Benton s Abridgment of Debates, VIII., 324. 



340 NATHANIEL MACON. 

over Jackson in the House of Representatives. But 
a letter to Yancey, written soon after he reached 
Washington, and more than a month before the 
Presidential contest began, shows clearly enough 
his dissatisfaction with conditions there : "Very soon 
after getting here, one of the Representatives from 
N. C. asked me what I thought the friends of Craw 
ford ought to do. This question was put in the 
presence of two or three others of our brethren. 
The answer was, do nor say nothing; by a union 
you have been defeated, let the victors decide who 
shall be President, because you may at any time 
take your choice, if you think proper, of those you 
do not approve." 1 

The prevailing sentiment in North Carolina was 
not in accord with Macon s views ; in the nation at 
large there was little promise of any return to what 
he called true Republican doctrines ; and all the pos 
sible candidates for the Presidency were equally 
distasteful to him; he was now sixty-six years old, 
and accounted seventy. How could the closing years 
of his political life be promising? He gave them 
to earnest, determined opposition, not unlike he had 
done soon after the beginning of his public career 
when the elder Adams was in the President s chair. 

About the time Crawford s illness upset all his 
plans for the campaign of 1824, the policy of pro 
tective tariff was again revived, with Clay as its 
champion. Clay knew well the state of American 
politics at that time. His purpose seems to have 
been to come out from his two years retirement, 
become Speaker of the House, and thus bring to 
the front his former scheme for "protecting infant 
industries," and by this means, while Adams, Craw- 
fprd and Jackson were wrangling over the first 

1 Macon to Yancey, December 26, 1824. 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1820-1828. 341 

place in the dying Republican party, combine the 
North and West on a new issue and bring himself 
with one stroke into the Presidency. The great 
dividing line between North and South which he 
had done much to fix was to be broken over in the 
organization of his followers by obscuring the slave 
question. High tariff was to be the main issue; 
next to it lavish public expenditure in the form of 
internal improvements. The tariff was not a new 
thing in the country, but a purely protective duty 
for the building up of the manufacturing interests 
was somewhat novel. On the subject of internal 
improvements, Clay had failed twice, yet nothing 
loth he now made it a part of his American system. 
The objects of the system" were to foster all kinds 
of manufactures at the expense of the vast majority 
of the people, under the pretense of making the 
nation independent of foreign countries. Every one 
who opposed Clay would thus be made to favor 
foreigners. The tariff bill introduced to meet the 
demands of the new policy raised the average rate 
from twenty-five per cent in 1816, to thirty- three 
and one-third in I824. 1 More than two months 
were spent in the debate that followed, in which it 
was seen that the South had changed grounds since 
1816; when its Representatives largely favored a 
protective tariff. When the vote was taken, New 
England, the Middle States and the West favored 
the new issue ; the South, from Virginia to Louisi 
ana, except one man, voted solidly against it. When 
the bill reached the Senate it there underwent an 
other two months of debate. Its friends could 
count only on a bare majority, even if that much. 
Southern Senators were unanimous this time in 
opposition to that kind of National improvement. 

i Channing : History of the United States, 386. 



342 NATHANIEL MACON. 

Macon spoke against the bill on May 4, expressing 
surprise that the West should attempt to tax the 
South for the benefit ol Western hemp and wool 
growers and Northern manufacturers. He called 
particular attention to the poverty of the Southern 
States, the States which would have to bear the bur 
den of the tax without the prospect of receiving any 
of its benefits. 1 Two votes of New Englanders 
would decide the tariff, said Macon in a letter to 
Yancey in May, 1824. But these two votes were 
likely to be won by concessions of one kind or an 
other from the friends of protection. Again Macon 
proposed several amendments or exemptions, but, 
the South being now isolated, these were all, save 
one, rejected without debate. 2 Then Senator Branch, 
of North Carolina, with Macon s concurrence, offered 
to add a new clause to the bill, providing for an 
appropriation of $500,000 to build canals in Eastern 
North Carolina, and for removing the obstructions 
to an outlet to the sea from that State. This was 
taking the protectionists on their own grounds, for 
they were all in favor of internal improvements; 
but the proposition was promptly voted down. On 
the very last day of the debate, Macon spoke against 
the tariff, and, significantly enough, Benton, his 
friend from Missouri, replied to him. The pro 
tective policy passed with a majority of five votes 
on May 19, 1824. Just four years before Missouri 
and the South, including Kentucky and Illinois, had 
voted solidly together on the Great Compromise. 
It was then Thomas of Illinois who came forward 
with the compromise which Southern congressmen 
thought gave them the best terms to which the 
North would submit. Now Missouri, Kentucky 

1 Annals of Congress, i8th Cong., ist Sess., I., 690. 

2 Annals of Congress, i8th Cong., ist Sess., I., 733. 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1820-1828. 343 

and Illinois joined hands with Pennsylvania, New 
York and the Eastern States to pass a law which 
every one knew would constantly draw large taxes 
from the South without chance of their returning 
thence in any form, unless that section should change 
its whole economic structure and become a seat of 
manufacturing. This was next to impossible under 
the system of slave labor. 

When Clay s first campaign for public improve 
ments failed because of Madison s veto in the clos 
ing days of his administration, and when in the fol 
lowing December (1817) Monroe announced that he 
would veto any similar bill which Congress might 
pass, De Witt Clinton and the people of New York 
hastened forward their great Erie Canal to its com 
pletion, and gained their object the trade with 
the West. At the beginning of Adams adminis 
tration in 1825, public attention had become so much 
occupied with the idea of internal improvements 
that Congress, having reason to believe the new 
President would give the assent of the Executive, 
especially since Clay had become Secretary of State, 
took up the twice-defeated bill for internal improve 
ments. "The return of prosperity," as the followers 
of Clay called it, had filled the treasury again ; the 
new tariff and the gradual return of normal condi 
tions in a growing country were really responsible 
for the new prosperity. At any rate there were 
three millions lying idle in the treasury. The 
same conditions had returned which had helped for 
ward Clay s bonus bill more than eight years before, 
with the advantage that the Executive was now 
favorable to latitudinarian interpretation of the Con 
stitution. When this bill was about to come up, 
Macon wrote his friend : "I never think of these 
claims of power, which appear to me not to be 



34-i NATHANIEL A1ACON. 

granted, but I shudder for the States where slavery 
exists. The spirit for emancipation is stronger and 
more enthusiastic than that for internal improve 
ments. It may sleep, but it never dies. It has been 
adopted^ by religious societies with a zeal not likely 
to tire. He then expresses uneasiness as to the 
effects in the South of the emancipation of slaves in 
St. Domingo, and adds : "Many of the State legis 
latures have passed resolutions against slavery 
which are^ published and republished again and 
again. It is made piracy by the laws of the United 
States to bring a slave from Africa. What, then, 
is it to hold one on land, being a descendant of an 
African? The question with us is not an original 
question of slavery or no slavery ; but what is the 
power of the Federal government?" This shows 
the foundation of his dogged opposition to every 
measure of Congress during the four years just be"- 
ginning. And the temper of Congress was the cause 
of his constant mental depression during those 
years. Nothing shows this more clearly than his 
speech of February 24, 1825, on the bill for sub 
scribing $150,000 in stock to the Delaware and 
Chesapeake Canal : "I rise with a full heart to take 
a last farewell of an old friend which I have always 
admired and loved the Constitution of the United 
States. Gentlemen say it is now unnecessary to 
enter into the constitutional question on this meas 
ure." He then cited the celebrated Virginia and 
Kentucky resolutions of 1798 as giving the true 
interpretation of the Constitution. "I can give no 
other name to my feelings than fears. It is true I 
have no fears for my personal liberty, but I fear my 
descendants will be taxed up to the nose so that if 
they get breath it will be as much as they can do. 
My fears may be groundless they may be nothing 



IN 



THE U. S. SENATE, 1820-1828. 345 



but suggestions of a worn-out old man, but they are 
sincere and I am alarmed for the safety of this gov 
ernment." The bill passed by a vote of twenty-four 
to eighteen. 1 

His last struggle against the American system 
was made just before he retired from the Senate in 
the spring of 1828. Clay was still in the Cabinet; 
the House, as usual on anything which concerned 
Clay, was opposed to the Senate and favorable to the 
Administration-; another presidential campaign was 
opening, and the Jackson-Crawford influences, now 
united, were promising to sweep the country. A 
plan for raising the tariff rates had been proposed 
towards the close of the last Congress ; it had passed 
the House, but was promptly vetoed by the Senate. 
During the following summer, the Pennsylvania 
society had called a convention of manufacturers to 
assemble in Harrisburg. This convention, not with 
out influence in suggesting similar political assem 
blies for the nation, attended by members of that 
class of people from Maine to Virginia and from 
New York to Illinois, petitioned Congress in favor of 
raising the rate of protection from 33 1-3 per cent to 
a higher average. Whether Clay had anything to do 
with the introduction and passage of a bill giving 
40 to 75 per cent is not certain ; but it suggests that 
his hand must have been seen when the House, still 
friendly to him, although organized to oppose 
Adams, readily passed the required bill. In the 
Senate changes of a radical nature had taken place ; 
Calhoun, the Vice-President, had now become an 
opponent of protection, and the Southern members 
had been steadily coming together into a close 
organization since 1820. Macon, more influential 
and more popular now than ever because he had 

i Beaton s Abridgment, VIII., i8o- 8i. 



346 NATHANIEL MACON. 

/ formerly stood almost alone in his advocacy of 
Southern and State rights, spoke twice, at first not 
so long, the second time more than two hours. His 
speeches may be summed up in the following sent 
ences : "I have always considered this system of 
high duties as the strife of private interests against 
the public good. It was said to the South a few 
years ago: Only pass our tariff bill and your cot 
ton will rise, but it has not risen. The full inten 
tion of this system seems to be, that we are to have 
nothing but what is made in this country. Sir, if 
the Southern States had looked as sharp after their 
own affairs as the North have, where would the 
great export trade have come from? In nothing 
ought equality to be more strictly observed than in 
taxation. It is an old-fashioned opinion that the 
maxim, which directs that everybody should be let 
alone and allowed to do that which he can do best, 
contains a sound doctrine." The tariff passed both 
Houses and became a law just before the close of the 
session, the South voting "solidly" against it. It 
received the name of "the tariff of abominations," 
and instead of helping Clay it injured him. 1 

The passage of this bill brings Macon and the 
other Southern congressmen into still closer affilia 
tion. In Virginia Giles uniting with the mighty 
Ritchie, and favored by the dying counsels of Jeffer 
son, had built up a boisterous and belligerant Democ 
racy ready to die in the last ditch ; in South Carolina 
Hamilton and the old regime were thinkng of seces 
sion ; in Georgia the warlike Troup who had 
defied the National Government in the recent Creek 
Indian controversy, was the leader of the new party. 
It was the beginning of 1861 ! North Carolina, like 
ancient England, returning to her more conser- 

1 Schouler, III., 420-427. 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1820-1828. 347 

vative and aristocratic moorings, occupied a unique 
position. The Whigs, legitimate offspring of the 
strong anti- Jefferson party in 1800, were constantly 
growing, though at the time under cover of a strong 
wave of Old Hickory enthusiasm, which will be 
noted presently. The part Macon played in this 
change of things in the South outside of his own: 
state was significant. It began with his foresight in 
1820, increased with his constant reiteration of the 
fact that all constructive interpretation of the Con 
stitution pointed to the downfall of slavery, and 
reached its culmination in his and Randolph s de 
termined and dogged opposition and obstruction to 
Adams administration. He was almost without 
hope while Clay s star continued in the ascendency, 
and was almost equally distrustful of Jackson. 

Thus far Macon s course in the Senate has been 
viewed chiefly from the standpoint of obstruction 
and opposition with only here and there a bit of con 
structive policy cropping out. Let us now trace his 
advance in personal popularity, in constructive states 
manship and in public confidence during the lat 
eight years of his career in the Senate. His long 
political life was devoted chiefly to opposition ex 
cepting the first six years of Jefferson s administra 
tion and the first five years of Madison s when he 
was an exponent and champion of independent meas 
ures. As soon, however, as the war of 1812 closed, 
the policy of the young republicans, no longer ham 
pered by a most embarrassing war, was made to em 
brace the fundamental principles of the Federalists ; 
and combining these with the more popular demo 
cratic practices of the Jefferson republicans and, add 
ing to this their great talents and exceedingly popu 
lar manners, these younger men, especially the 
Southerners, seized more firmly than ever the reins 



348 NATHANIEL MACON. 

of power. But Macon, keeping his vision clear as 
to the true position of his State and section and true 
in every fiber to the "old Republican" doctrines, could 
not support the revived policy of the Federalists no 
matter in how feasible a form. He was again 
forced into the opposition, where he remained until 
his final retirement. During this time he was 
a member of the Senate, which body had become the 
centre of great debates, the organ, too, of the oppo 
sition since it was seldom in accord with the Execu 
tive. With Madison it will be remembered, the 
Senate disagreed on the subject of internal improve 
ments and even talked of passing their bonus bill for 
that purpose over the President s veto ; under Mon 
roe s administration there were even more causes of 
dispute, and with Adams the Senate was in a state of 
open war from the very beginning of his term. The 
Senate, then, was called upon to do more than 
merely oppose; it was expected to make proposals 
and outline policies of its own particularly on the 
subjects of internal improvements and the South 
American relations. What made this the more nec 
essary was the attitude of the House of Representa 
tives which, under the spell of Clay s influence and 
popularity, was one of opposition to the Senate and 
for a great portion of the time of opposition also to 
the President. The Senate had grown in the re 
spect and esteem of the nation. All which tended to 
give that body a more important share in the 
National Government. 

To this body Macon had been sent in 1815 to fill 
the unexpired term of David Stone, resigned. It was 
not until 1817 that Macon was appointed to mem 
bership on important committees. In December of 
that year, he became second member of the great 
committee on Foreign Relations and last on the 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1820-1828. 349 

committee on Finance. His principal colleagues 
on these committees were James Barbour of Vir 
ginia, George M. Troup of Georgia, Rufus King of 
New York, George W. Campbell of Tennessee and 
John W. Eppes of Virginia, all of whom occupied 
the very highest rank in the nation, Barbour, Camp 
bell and Eppes having distinguished themselves un 
der previous administrations, King having served 
eight years as American minister to Great Britain. 
Macon had held so many conspicuous positions and 
had been so long in public station that he was 
scarcely less favorably known to the country than 
his colleagues. 1 

The committee on Foreign Relations reported, 
through its chairman, Barbour, early in April of the 
next year (1818) a navigation bill which included 
the main features of the famous Macon bill No. I 
of the year 1810, that is, it provided (i) that the 
harbors of the United States should be closed 
against every British vessel coming from ports not 
open to American trade, (2) that every English ves 
sel leaving American ports and bound for harbors 
closed against the United States should be com 
pelled to give bond that their cargoes should be 
landed at the designated port under penalty of con 
fiscation of both vessel and cargo in case any evasion 
were discovered. It is not claimed that Macon was 
the author of this bill, but that as its co-author and 
earnest advocate he deserves to receive credit for 
its preparation and final passage by the Senate, espe 
cially since the bill embodies some of the principal 
features of his great bill of eight years before. 2 At 
the second session Macon became chairman of the 
committee on Foreign Relations and as such made 

1 Annals of Congress isth Cong., ist Sess., I., 25-26. 

2 Annals of Congress, isth Cong., ist Sess., I., 312-339. 



350 NATHANIEL MACON. 

an able report on the condition of American-British 
jtrade relations in which he insisted on reciprocity 
between the two countries more especially in the 
commerce between the United States and the Eng 
lish colonies a policy which was first realized under 
the McLane treaty of Jackson s first administration. 
And as regarded the shipping of the two nations, he 
said: "It must be placed on a footing of practical 
;and reciprocal equality, both as respects duties and 
charges, and the equal participation of the trade." 
The recent navigation law (the measure just de 
scribed) he reported later as having been "productive 
of increase of the American shipping engaged in the 
direct trade between the United States and Great 
Britain, and the corresponding decrease of that of 
Great Britain but sufficient time has not yet been 
afforded satisfactorily to ascertain this point or to 
determine other questions that are in a course of 
solution. Perhaps it would be prudent to allow time 
for this important experiment, and to suffer the 
negotiation on this subject to remain where it is for 
the present. It ought not to be forgotten, that with 
out cutting off the trade with New Brunswick, Nova 
Scotia and Bermuda, this experiment can not be 
fairly made. Whether it would be expedient at the 
present session to adopt this measure is perhaps 
doubtful." 1 Congress accordingly took no action 
leaving the subject of foreign commerce in the 
hands of the committee and our representative in 
London. Macon s cautious disposition is evident 
in the report; its language, too, is his. 

Macon was a prominent member of this commit 
tee until he was elected President pro temp ore of the 
Senate to succeed Gailliard in 1826. He was chair 
man again in 1825-26 when the controversy over the 

i Annals of Congress, isth Cong., 2d Sess., I., 249-50. 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1820-1828. 351 

celebrated Panama mission took place. Since this 
subject was made the basis of a fierce attack on the 
President, John Quincey Adams, and Macon being 
a principal party to the attack, it becomes necessary 
to examine it more closely. 

It will be remembered that Adams and Clay had 
been in accord during Monroe s administration in 
regard to the policy of the United States towards 
South America. Clay had warmly advocated the 
recognition of the new South American republics 
even before the more prudent Adams could clear the 
way of pacifying Spain. Adams had written the 
Monroe doctrine as a reply to the manifesto of the 
Holy Alliance and, as the advocate of such a doc 
trine, he could not but favor entering into any plan 
for establishing closer and more friendly relations 
with South American states. The Panama Con 
gress, planned by the American states of Spanish ori 
gin, was intended to encourage and foster closer 
friendship among all the American powers. It was 
to meet on the isthmus in October, 1825. Invita 
tions were sent to the United States. And Clay, 
smarting under the sting of public criticism for hav 
ing placed the unpopular Adams in the President s 
chair, hastened to turn public opinion into another 
channel. He desired to make a great pan-American 
demonstration of the Panama Congress and create 
more interest in inter- American commerce. He took 
up the invitation with his usual enthusiasm and 
gusto and urged Adams to accept it and promise to 
send representatives to Panama without so much as 
consulting Congress. This was determined upon 
in May, 1825 ; and the Administration set to work 
creating a public sentiment favorable to the proposed 
mission. When Congress met Adams simply an 
nounced to the Senate that he would send proper 



^02 NATHANIEL MACON. 

representatives still leaving out of consideration the 
fact that the Senate might interpose by refusing to 
confirm his nominations. The President felt, like 
his father before him after the X. Y. Z. explosion in 
1798, that in view of the hearty public support which 
had been worked up and was now manifesting itself 
in meetings and resolutions, the Senate would not 
make vigorous opposition. 

But opposition was made. The debate began 
with closed doors and the people, always jealous of 
secret legislation, began to murmur, taking pains 
to applaud the President. Van Buren proposed to 
remove this obstacle to public favor on the part of 
the Senate by opening the doors to the public. 
Adams looked with disfavor on this manoeuver and 
insinuated in a short message that the Senate desired 
thus to curry favor with the public. The secret ses 
sions continued and the President outlined more 
fully in a special message his policy in the Panama 
business. This message was referred to the commit 
tee on Foreign Relations, and Macon, now its chair 
man, made an elaborate and detailed report : I. Such 
a mission was in direct violation of our policy of 
avoiding entangling alliances. 2. That we had 
long maintained a strict neutrality in all these Span 
ish American revolutions. 3. There was no cause 
for our breaking that neutrality by taking part in 
this American international Congress. 4. The 
President proposed to endow our agents there with 
undefined powers. 5. That those who had invited us 
to take part had disclosed their real purpose to be to 
draw the United States into an alliance with them 
against "their mother country." And 6, in fact 
European affairs no longer threatened to become 
dangerous to American liberty, so that there was no 
cause for the movement on foot, and that if in the 
future it should become necessary for such a co- 



IN THE; u. s. SENATE, 1820-1828. 353 

operation of all the American states the Senate 
would suggest that the United States take the ini 
tiative and send out invitations consistent with their 
own purposes. 1 This cold analysis of the Admin 
istration s policy did not please the public any more 
than it flattered the President. The House sided 
at once with the Executive, and the Senate yielding 
to popular influences voted down Macon s report. 
The ministers to Panama had been appointed, their 
appointments were confirmed by the Senate, and the 
sum of forty thousand dollars was voted to pay the 
expenses of the mission. The Government gained 
the victory, but the results proved within a year both 
the correctness and wisdom of Macon s report. 

From this report and its cause, President Adams 
message on the Panama mission, arose Macon s 
speech on the powers of the Executive already men 
tioned and which shows his own personal views to 
have been in accord with his report which we know 
he did not write, 2 and which also had much to do 
with his attempt to limit the scope of the Presi 
dent s powers by special legislation to be related in 
another connection. In the speech he said first that 
no other President had ever claimed the power to 1 
create offices, but that nearly every other President 
had either transcended his powers or acted on mat 
ters in a way which compelled Congress to act some 
times in opposition to their sentiment, citing the 
Monroe doctrine as the most notable instance of 
Executive action which had committed the whole 
country to a policy not determined by its representa 
tives. The second objection he made to the exer 
cise of liberal powers by the Executive was that it 
disturbed the balance of power among the several 

* Schouler, III., 363-64. 

a Benton s Abridgment, VIII., 421. 

23 



354 NATHANIEL MACON. 

departments in the United States Government. The 
last point was that the people were generally clamor 
ing against the expansion of the President s func 
tions, and as a representative of the people he stood 
up to make his and their protest against the evil. 1 
And in his private correspondence at the time he was 
equally outspoken: "The message of the President 
seems to claim all the powers of the Federal Gov 
ernment which have heretofore produced so much 
debate and which the election of Mr. Jefferson was 
supposed to have settled; but so it is, a decision 
against power in the government is no precedent, 
while one in favor of it is. Hence all governments 
are apt to gain power." 2 And again to the same 
correspondent a year and a half later he employs 
similar language but extending it to a criticism of 
the people for allowing each Administration to name 
its successor by placing the Secretary of State before 
them as the best trained and most suitable candidate. 
"If this goes on," he continued, "each President 
will appoint his successor." 

Macon s would-be detractors, especially those in 
his own State, have maintained that he never ran 
counter to public sentiment, that he never risked 
his popularity by upholding what the people op 
posed. It need only be said that in the long Panama 
contest he constantly opposed the popular view and, 
from 1823 to 1828, he opposed the election of Jack 
son though his own constituents met at Warrenton 
to nominate Jackson and Calhoun. 3 It was not his 
intention persistently and for long periods to oppose 
his views to those of his constituents. This would 
have been contrary to his idea of the meaning of 

1 BentonV Abridgment, VIII., 550-51- 

2 Macon to Yancey, December 6, 1825. 

3 See letter quoted on p. 338. 



IN THE u. s. SENATE;, 1820-1828. 355 

representative government. The people were, in 
accordance with the tenets of his party, his last re 
sort and final authority ; but he understood the mean 
ing of temporary excitement and enthusiasm and so 
he could set himself strongly against the popular will 
thus influenced if it seemed necessary. 

In connection with his speech on the powers of 
the Executive some mention of his attitude towards 
the Administration in its war with Georgia ought to 
be made. This outbreak on the part of the lower 
South was the result of two influences at work in the 
Southern mind : ( i ) That the bounds of the slave 
power must be expanded as rapidly as possible, and 
(2) that the Northern States in accord with their 
demands in the Missouri compromise, were, with 
the help of the General Government, rapidly extend 
ing their boundaries in the Northwest. The ques 
tion in dispute in 1825-26 was : How would the 
United States extinguish the Indian title to lands 
occupied by the Creek nation within the limits of the 
State of Georgia? In 1802 the National Govern 
ment had agreed to do this for the State of Georgia 
in consideration of the cession by that State of the 
territory out of which the States of Alabama and 
Mississippi had been carved. The National Gov 
ernment, as is usual with all governments, was slow 
to execute the conditions of the contract and the 
Georgians, face to face with the Indians, whose 
lands they coveted, kept up a state of intermittent 
warfare on their western borders. In 1824 the 
Cherokees and Creeks, the tribes then occupying the 
disputed territory, declared they would never give 
up their lands. The advancing plantation builders 
accused the National Government of instigating this 
declaration on the part of the Indians, "because," 
said thev, "the Administration is desirous to check 



356 NATHANIEL MACON. 

the expansion of the slave power." A treaty was 
soon negotiated betwen the United States and the 
Chief of the Creeks, General Mclntosh, by which 
the two tribes yielded their claim to large areas of 
land in Georgia and Alabama. As soon as the news 
of the treaty was published the Indians fell upon 
Mclntosh and killed him. They refused to recog 
nize the Mclntosh treaty, and the United States 
Government, seeing Georgia going forward as 
though the recent treaty were entirely valid, called 
on the Governor of Georgia to have the surveying 
of the lands in question suspended until further 
notice. A United States officer, General Gaines, 
was ordered to the scene. Governor Troup had 
already taken measures to remove the Indians beyond 
the bounds of the State according to the terms of the 
repudiated treaty ; the United States could not assent 
to this. Gaines and Troup were about to bring on a 
war between the National and State governments. 
All Georgia was aflame and the Governor called on 
the people to "stand to their arms." Troup finally 
agreed to wait till another treaty could be agreed 
upon and, after a year or two more of bloodshed on 
the Georgia border and of harrassing delay in the 
negotiations which were being conducted in Wash 
ington, the Indians were removed to lands beyond 
the Mississippi an event remembered and talked of 
to-day by the oldest inhabitants of the section as the 
most important event after the Revolution in the 
development of the lower South. 

What made the subject so difficult and at the 
same time so important was the spirit already re 
ferred to, the spirit of rapid expansion on the part 
of the slave States, which was even then casting 
longing eyes towards the fertile plains of Texas, 
and which, distrusting all the professions of the 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1820-1828. 357 

General Government, was determined to work out 
its own destiny under the sanction of State author 
ity. Macon shared this spirit already, as appears 
in the following brief comment : "It seems somewhat 
strange that the Federal Government should be able 
to acquire so much land from the Indians to the 
West and Northwest and so little to the South and 
Southwest. Georgia claims of her to fulfil the bar 
gains made many years since and no other State 
or territory has a bargain by which to claim the ex 
tinction of the Indian title." 1 

There remain two other lines of study in Macon s 
life in the Senate his advocacy of constitutional 
amendments and his standing with the public. Mon 
roe s first message to Congress in December, 1817, 
had earnestly recommended adequate amendments 
of the Constitution in order to enable the Govern 
ment to carry on internal improvements. Though 
Macon opposed on principle the expenditure of pub 
lic money in this way, except through the State gov 
ernments, he favored the proposition of Mpnroe as 
the best method of settling definitely the theory of 
interpretation. This plan was generally approved 
in the Southern States. There was another com 
plaint which came very much into public notice 
during the following year : the election of presiden 
tial electors by popular vote in districts. The 
North Carolina Legislature petitioned Congress in 
January, 1818, through Macon, for such an arrange 
ment. Only a few years before the change from the 
district to the general ticket method had been made 
in that State. The change was not satisfactory. 
Many other States followed this method of election 
by general ticket in the legislature; but there was 
no uniformity. The proposition of North Carolina 

i Macon to Yancey, December, 1823. 



358 NATHANIEI, MACON. 

in some form or other was dicussed at length at 
different times until in 1824 other amendments to 
the Constitution for allowing internal improvements, 
for restricting the term of service in the Presidency 
to eight years, for the election of the President by 
popular vote and for limiting the Executive patron 
age were added and all submitted to a special com 
mittee, which reported back to the Senate, but no 
action was taken. In 1825 Macon moved that a 
second committee be appointed. Benton, Macon, 
Van Buren and others, all favoring amendments of 
some kind to the National Constitution, were selected 
as members. Their report recommended the pres 
ent plan of electing the President and Vice-Presi 
dent, with the exception that Congress should con 
vene every fourth year to receive the reports of the 
election immediately, and if it appeared that no 
choice had been made then a new election should 
be set for the first Thursday and Friday of Decem 
ber following. It is evident that dissatisfaction with 
the late election in the House of Representatives 
entered largely into this proposition. Years before 
Macon had favored popular elections for all officers, 
both State and National. He stated openly in the 
Senate at this time that he had changed his mind 
with reference to the President and that he favored 
some indirect method. Benton seems to have 
favored a popular election of President; but he 
yielded to the indirect method which Macon advo 
cated. 

But this committee made a better recommenda 
tion than this. From the beginning of the war of 
1812 when Madison appointed so many members of 
Congress to office, Macon had repeatedly by speech 
and by private correspondence proposed and urged 
an amendment to the National Constitution prohib- 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, I820-I828. 359 

iting the President from appointing to office any 
member of Congress until the expiration of the 
presidential term in which such person shall have 
served as a Senator or Representative." The evil 
which he meant to remedy was, and is, quite patent. 
Macon now brought forward his reform and secured 
for it the endorsement of the special committee. 
The plan was reported to the Senate but was never 
debated 1 and of course never passed either branch 
of Congress. 

In December, 1825, John Randolph of Roanoke 
joined Macon in the Senate and the two old friends 
now more closely united in politics and represent 
ing a "solid South" waged a ceaseless war on every; 
thing Northern, commercial or anti-slavery. Ran^ 
dolph made his and Macon s attitude towards the 
Missouri Compromise a sort of political platform to 
which they adhered most rigidly and on which they 
were uniting all Southern congressmen. Slavery 
was endangered, they thought, in every attempt to 
extend the powers of the Executive, in the seem 
ing lethargy of the government in extinguishing 
the title of the Creek Indians to Georgia lands. 
Randolph, as he had done so often before in their 
earlier comradeship in the House, made a parade of 
Macon s friendship by referring to him in nearly 
every speech as his "honored" or "venerable friend 
from North Carolina." 

They lived in the same "mess" in Washington 
spending "whole hours together, in the long winter 
nights, keeping each other company." 2 Garland 
says: "In silence they sat and mused as the fire 
burned. Each had his own private sorrows and do 
mestic cares to brood over; both felt the weight of 

1 Benton s Abridgment, VIII., 375, 400. 

2 See Garland s Life of Randolph, II., 275-76. 



UNIVERSITY 



NATHANIEL MACON. 



rears pressing- upon them, and still more, the wast 
ing hand of disease. They had long since learned to 
look upon the honors of the world as empty shad 
ows. Nothing but the purest patriotism, 
and ardent devotion to their country and her noble 
institutions, could hold them to the discharge of their 
unpleasant duties, while every admonition of nature 
warned them to lay aside the harness of battle and 
be at rest. * They meditated with awe and 
trembling on the many difficulties that now beset 
their path. What a treasure of wisdom could those 
meditations have been embodied in words, and 
handed down for our instruction !" Whether their 
united wisdom was so great or their path of duty 
so thorny need not be discussed here ; but it is cer 
tain their long political careers were drawing to a 
close in the most peaceful bonds of friendship and 
happiness so far as they were concerned. As to the 
future of the country they were filled with misgiv 
ings and, fearing the worst, they had decided what 
the duty of Southerners was : to stand for their 
States. 

The creed of these founders of the second school 

\of State s rights was well expressed by Randolph: 
"Myself and my colleague, who with another gentle 
man whom I shall not refer to, though near me, 
were the only persons whom I have heard of, be 
longing to the Southern interest, who determined 
to have no compromise (the Missouri bill) at all 
on this subject. They determined to cavil on the 

I nineteenth part of a hair in a matter of sheer right 
touching the dearest interests the life-blood of 
the Southern States." 1 And again the same kind of 
principles were advanced in the debate on the Ex 
ecutive Powers, to which reference has been made : 

1 Ben ton s Abridgment, VIII., 475. 



IN THE: u. s. SENATE, 1820-1828. 361 

"I trust that it will turn out in the end whether 
our adversaries be born to consume the fruits of the 
earth, whether or not they belong to the caterpillars 
of the Treasury or of the law that our name, too, 
is Legion, for, sir, we belong to the cause and the 
party of the people; we do claim to belong to the 
majority of this nation ? No, sir, I acknowledge 
no nation of this Confederate Republic. For I, 
too, disclaim any master, save that ancient Common 
wealth whose feeble and unprofitable servant I am. 1 
I know there are gentlemen, not only from the 
Northern, but from the Southern States, who think 
that this unhappy question for such it is of negro 
slavery, which the Constitution has vainly attempted 
to blink, by not using the term, should never be 
brought into public notice, more especially into that 
of Congress, and most especially here. Sir, with 
every due respect for the gentlemen who think so, 
I differ from them toto coelo. Sir, it is a thing 
which can not be hid it is not a dry-rot that you 
can cover with the carpet, until the house tumbles 
about your ears you might as well try to hide a 
volcano in full operation it can not be hid ; it is a 
cancer in your face, and must be treated secundum 
artem." 1 

These were the ideas for which these two friends 
stood. They spoke of Senators from Northern 
States as our adversaries and of their colleagues 
from Southern States as our brethren. And they 
had succeeded by the help of events, and especially 
by the help of Henry Clay, in converting John C. 
Calhoun and his fellow South Carolinians, William 
R. King and others of the far South to their views. 
And outside of Congress there was rapidly maturing 

1 Benton s Abridgment, VIII., 475. 

2 Speech of March 2, 1826. 



362 NATHANIEL MACON. 

under the leadership of the Richmond Enquirer in 
Virginia, of Troup and others in Georgia, a school 
of politicians who were returning to the Virginia and 
Kentucky resolutions as their chart and compass. 
These celebrated resolutions were resurrected and 
brought into the public prints ; their author, Jeffer 
son, was called on to express himself on public 
affairs. His advice looked backwards, too, to the 
days of his own great struggle. It is needless to 
say that Macon, a living representative of the rigid 
and austere democracy which won that contest and 
regarded Jefferson as the first, the truest and greatest 
American, was looked up to by this younger school 
in Virginia with esteem and veneration. Jefferson 
himself wrote him in one of his last letters, dated 
February 24, 1826: "I am particularly happy to per 
ceive that you retain health and spirits still man 
fully to maintain our good old principle of cherish 
ing and fortifying the rights and authorities of the 
people in opposition to those who fear them, who 
wish to take all power from them and transfer all 
to Washington. The latter may call themselves 
republicans if they please, but the school of Venice 
and all of this principle I call tories; for consolida 
tion is but toryism in disguise, its object being to 
withdraw their acts as far as possible from the ken 
of the people. God bless you and preserve you many 
and long years." 1 This letter, written when dis 
satisfaction with the Administration was running 
high, was significant, and had without doubt some 
circulation among "good republicans" in Congress 
during the debate on the Panama Mission then in 
progress. 

But Macon was already popular in Virginia. His 
influence there had been great in the Crawford cam- 

i Jefferson s Writings ( Ford), X., 378. 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1820-1828. 363 

paign. The Democrats in the Virginia Legislature 
held a caucus in February, 1824, for the purpose of 
nominating candidates for President and Vice-Presi- 
dent. Macon received six votes for the first place 
on the ticket and eleven for the second. 1 And when 
the electoral vote was finally cast Macon received 
the whole vote of Virginia for the Vice-Presidency. 2 
And in June, 1824, when it was seen that Craw 
ford s ill health was likely to prove fatal, or at least 
to defeat his election, George M. Troup, the mili 
tant governor of Georgia and ardent Southerner, 
wrote Macon : "In this unfortunate event I know of 
no person who would unite so extensively the public 
sentiments of the Southern Country in his favor as 
yourself. In such an unhappy result therefore, unless 
you forbid it I will take the liberty to propagate my 
opinion as diffusively as I can. In the administra 
tion of the General Government we want virtue, 
virtue, virtue." This shows clearly enough that 
Macon was not the recipient of a merely compli 
mentary vote for the Vice-Presidency, as has been 
so often contended; that the South was completing 
that consolidation which began in 1820, was inter 
rupted by the Jackson campaigns and the prema 
ture Nullification contest in South Carolina, 
set in again when the Texas question was up, and 
culminated in 1861. Macon was voted for in real 
earnest in the Virginia caucus and the hot-headed 
Georgia Governor advocated him for the Vice-Presi 
dency, believing that the proposed candidate for 
the Presidency would be incapacitated by ill health 
for the office. It was not claimed that Macon was 
a great man, but a virtuous one, on whom the " South 
Country" could rely. And it will have been noted 

1 Richmond Enquirer, February 17, 1824. 

2 Benton s Abridgment, VIII., 324. 



364 NATHANIEL MACON. 

more than once in these pages that Macon was ad 
dressed as the friend of the "South Country." He 
and Randolph spoke constantly of their only mas 
ters North Carolina and Virginia. From the 
three or four men in 1820 who "would hear of no 
compromise on the slavery question," the small 
group had grown to be a great party in 1824-28 a 
party which claimed that slavery or no slavery was 
at bottom the only question in national politics. That 
they did not keep together in 1828, 1832 and 1840, 
was due to causes not within the scope of this study 
to discuss. 

Not the least remarkable plan of that intriguing 
day was that which proposed that Macon should 
become Adams running mate in 1828. Adams knew 
that Calhoun and Clay, and even Webster, were 
all intriguing against him; and day after day 
brought new proofs of the hostility of the Senate. 
Randolph was allowed to harangue that dignified 
body five hours at a time on the President s dis 
honesty and incapacity. The President was ambi 
tious above all others to be re-elected. His only 
hope of success lay in a combination with some 
of his opponents from the South. His great com 
petitor and political foe was Jackson ; and Jackson s 
nominal friend was Calhoun, but every one knew the 
great South Carolinian was very ambitious to be 
come head of the ticket instead of second, as he had 
been in 1824. Macon opposed Jackson vigorously 
until very late in the administration. Randolph, 
Adams bitterest political enemy, disliked Jackson 
and neither Macon nor Randolph were friendly to 
Calhoun because of his earlier career. Under these 
circumstances the President made overtures to 
Macon s friends that he should become candidate 
for the Vice-Presidency. Macon was popular at 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1820-1828. 365 

the far South for his uncompromising attitude on 
the slavery question since 1820; his own State was 
ready to do him honor ; and Virginia, coming more 
and more under the influence of strictest States 
rights ideas, was ready to vote for him a second 
time for the Vice-Presidency. Such a combination 
might, so it was thought, break Jackson s hold on 
the South and bring Adams to his much coveted 
goal. 

Just how Macon received the proposition can not 
be determined from our sources of information. In 
all probability he paid little heed to it, seeing how 
utterly inconsistent such a position would be for 
him. Had he not been chief among the opponents 
of the President? The plan is only to be viewed 
as one of the many made during that stormy admin 
istration. Yet the President honored Macon and 
Macon, unlike Randolph, believed in the upright 
ness of Adams. Nothing came of the scheme. It 
deserves attention here only as evidence of Macon s 
standing at the time and of the desperate shifts of 
the time for gaming the Presidency. 

The last honor conferred on Macon while in the 
Senate was his election to succeed John Gailliard of 
South Carolina as President pro tempore of that 
body. It was not without a struggle on the part 
of his friends that he was successful. Seventeen 
ballots were required before they could secure a 
majority of the votes. 1 But Macon s service in the 
Speaker s chair during the two years following was 
small, for Calhoun was almost invariably present. 

As another presidential campaign drew near Ma 
con began to cast about for a suitable man. North 
Carolina would be influenced by his decision, not 
withstanding the popularity of Jackson. The fol- 

1 Benton s Abridgment, VIII., 593. 



366 NATHANIEL MACON. 

lowing cautious language appears in a letter of 
March 31, 1826: "The next presidential contest will 
probably be between A. and J. I have often been 
asked which I shall support if only these two were 
up. I answered it was time enough to decide ; that 
unless A. changed his measures, I should not support 
him and that I did not wish to see J. president, and 
that I did not mean at this time to commit myself." 
In the same letter he gives expression to a fear that 
Jackson would, if elected, introduce the practice of 
rotation in office. He was disgusted at the idea and 
always vigorously opposed the use of patronage by 
the Executive. Indeed it was one of his favorite 
doctrines that all patronage should be taken from 
the President and lodged in some unpartisan board, 
not in Congress and not even open to members of 
Congress, so jealous was he of the abuse of the pow 
ers of. office. But notwithstanding this, after Cal- 
hourrs partial conversion to strict construction prin 
ciples, hi? vote on the tariff bill and his quarrel with 
the Administration in 1827, Macon inclined to give 
his support to Jackson, who meanwhile had renewed 
his po. 1 it?cal friendship with Calhoun. About this 
time the National Intelligencer, the most powerful 
newspaper in the country, came out for Adams. 
Macon wrote Yancey: "The National Intelligencer 
has certainly changed its character. The Raleigh 
Ri Bister follows the Intelligencer as truly as the big 
wheel ci a wagon follows the little one. Neither 
the Intelligencer nor the Register are calculated for 
the interest of North Carolina, though they may suit 
Washington City and the Administration." By De 
cember, 1827, he had given Jackson his support, 1 and 
appeared to think the candidate would be elected. 
The reasons for his change were strictly sectional. 

i Garland s I,ife of Randolph, II., 294. 



IN THE u. s. SENATE, 1820-1828. 367 

He thought Jackson would be able to unite Penn 
sylvania and New York with the Southerners in 
national politics, though he feared his military habits. 
With Calhoun, however, he became content, and, 
tempered by the influence of the latter, Macon hoped 
that Jackson would become a constitutional Presi 
dent, that is, a strict constructionist and State rights 
man. Yet he said : "It is only a scuffle for the 
Presidency, rather a scuffle for men than principles, 
but this ought not to prevent our trying to get the 
one we prefer, hence I go for Jackson." He was 
then under the shadow of the "tariff of abomina 
tions," and no matter how hopeful as to the success 
of his candidate, he felt that the great economic 
struggle was going once more against the South. 

After the passage of the tariff bill of 1828, in one 
of his last letters from Washington, Macon wrote, 
giving the James and the Mississippi rivers, the 
Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the 
Alleghany mountains as the true boundaries of the 
South : "The Southern country is nearly ruined. 
They must save themselves by not buying what is 
not obliged to be bought ; do as they did in the war 
of the Revolution." The tariff and paper money 
systems, he thought, had wrought the ruin; and if 
ever that section should become prosperous again, 
it would be by means of manufacturing, for which 
there was ample water power. To show how closely 
he and Randolph agreed on this subject, a quota 
tion of one of Randolph s letters written a year later 
from Washington says: "The operation of the 
present government, like a debt at usurious interest, 
must destroy the whole South. It eats like a canker 
into our very core. South Carolina must become 
bankrupt and depopulated. * * * I am too old 
to move, or the end of this year should not find me 
a resident of Virginia." 



368 NATHANIEL MACON. 

Such were the feelings of these two ardent South 
erners and life-long companions, worn out in the 
service of their States, when Macon, before the re 
assembling of Congress in December, 1828, wrote 
the following characteristic letter to the General 
Assembly of North Carolina: "Age and infirmity 
render it proper for me to retire from public service. 
I therefore resign the appointment of Senator to the 
Senate of the U. S., that of Trustee of the Univer 
sity of the State, and that of Justice of the Peace 
for the county of Warren. 

"In retiring from the service of the State, I want 
words to convey to the Legislature, and through 
them to the people, my thanks and gratitude for 
their kindness and confidence reposed in me. There 
are feelings which words can not express. Mine 
are of this kind. I may, however, be permitted to 
add that no person can be under more obligations to 
a State than I am to North Carolina, nor feel them 
more strongly, and that duty alone has induced me 
to resign." 1 

On the back of the letter to the Legislature ap 
pears his own sketch of his life : "While at Prince 
ton, New Jersey, in 1776, I served a short tour of 
militia duty. After the fall of Charleston, S. C. (12 
May, 1780), I served in the militia till the prelimi 
nary articles of peace were signed (30 November, 
1782), and never received or charged a cent for 
militia duty anywhere. I never solicited any man 
to vote for me, or hinted to him that I wished him 
to do so. Nor did I ever solicit any person to make 
interest for me to be elected to any place. When 
elected to the U. S. Senate, I did not receive double 
pay for traveling." 2 

* Letter dated Buck Spring, Nov. 14, 1828. 
yettuit a e b obsolet t e he mileage P rivile &e which then prevailed and is not 



IN THE U. S. SENATE, 1820-1828. 369 

"Twice offered the office of Postmaster-General 
Speaker of the House of R. 3 times successively, 
1801-1807." 

This short letter and postscript make a true com 
mentary on the character of the man. Thus ended 
his active political life with the close of his sixty- 
ninth year. He had been in Congress thirty-seven 
years without interruption, and forty-two in public 
life. He had grown to be exceedingly popular in 
the South ; his later years in Congress had witnessed 
the formation of the extreme State s Rights party, 
of which he was a foremost leader, and to which 
Calhoun had already given his allegiance. But it 
was his hope now that he might have ten years of 
quiet retirement at his home in Warren county, 
some miles from the nearest town or postoffice, and 
he resolutely withdrew from the public service. 



CHAPTER XIX. 
MACON S LAST YEARS. 

The last years of Macon s life, with the exception 
of his activity in the Convention of 1835 an d his 
share in the election of Van Buren, were spent in a 
quiet and peaceful retirement at his plantation near 
the Roanoke, Buck Spring. Like Washington and 
Jefferson, he thought the most fitting close to a long 
political career was on a plantation far removed 
from the centres of life and turmoil. His postoffice 
was twelve miles distant, and he did not get his mail 
oftener than once a week, and many times two weeks 
passed without his receiving a word from the out 
side world. 

Of the manner of this life on the Roanoke, not 
much is to be said, because we know so little of the 
man except where he touched the public life of his 
State and Nation. He had divided his property 
into three equal shares soon after the marriage of 
his youngest daughter in 1807, giving each child a 
third of his estate and reserving for himself a third. 
This, he said, was the just and true policy of a 
father, since it would give help to the younger gener 
ation at the time it was most needed. Before 1830 
Macon s share had grown again to considerable pro 
portions. His estate embraced two thousand acres 
of land, well improved and cultivated by about 
seventy negroes. 1 For his pastime and pleasure he 
kept ten thoroughbred horses, though not so many 
were ready for the saddle at any one time, since he 
raised his own stock. His extraordinary love for 
thoroughbreds is manifested in his keeping the 

i Macon s will in Warren County Records. 



MACON S LAST YEARS. 371 

record of their births on the fly-leaf of the family 
Bible. 1 The fox chase, in which he engaged up to 
the very last year of his life, was one of his special 
delights, and many a time Congressmen going to 
and from the National capital turned aside to spend 
a day or two with Macon and to engage with him in 
this popular Southern sport. Like Jefferson and 
the other older gentlemen of the old regime of that 
day, Macon furnished his guests with well-groomed 
horses on each occasion, and it was oft-times with 
great difficulty that the gentleman of the younger 
generation could keep his seat on a steed that leaped 
fences and hillside gullies with almost as much 
ease as the fox himself. 

Buck Spring was a sort of Mecca in upper North 
Carolina, where its sage discoursed of men and 
things a half century old with amazing accuracy. 
National and State politics since 1776 was his theme. 
He knew nearly every man who sat in the North 
Carolina Constitutional Convention which met at 
Halifax, 2 and he had known every prominent man 
in National politics since 1789. He made a point of 
relating accurately the course of events leading up 
to the great contest of 1800-1801, and of giving the 
attitude, without animosity or feeling, of the princi 
pal actors in that struggle. 3 A good instance of this 
was his account of the mock serenades given Vice- 
President Jefferson by the young aristocrats of Phil 
adelphia in 1799-1800, in which the rogue s march 
and other pieces of Jacobin music were played under 
his window. So thorough was this knowledge of 
the past that the members of the North Carolina 
Constitutional Convention, which met a few years 

1 This Bible, now in the possession of Miss Laura Alston of Warren- 
ton, shows a record of the births of his horses from 1800 to 1837. 

2 See his speech in the North Carolina Convention of 1835 Debates, 176. 

3 Southern History Association Publications, IV., 11-12. 



372 NATHANIEL MACON. 

later, called on him repeatedly for precedents in the 
early policy of his party. 

His home had not changed with his growth into a 
national character, but had remained the same as 
when he first built it. In fact, he lived alone, except 
when visitors called, with his slave cabins cluster 
ing around and the pickaninnies frolicking about 
the great shady grove. No extravagance was in 
dulged ; his table was supplied from his own pantry 
and garden, and the fare was simple, indeed. Yet 
his large cellar for wines and liquors was kept well 
stocked. His favorite drink was corn whiskey, which 
he took at the beginning of each meal ; but he never 
offered it to anyone else, on the ground that it might 
be a temptation. He regretted his appetite for 
drink, saying that the drink habit was a great and 
unfortunate evil. Wine was kept, however, for the 
benefit of his friends, who called for it when they 
desired; and Macon s wine was noted for its age 
and flavor. His demeanor in the home was easy, 
and his manners affable ; the stranger, says Govan^ a 
South Carolina Congressman who visited him in 
1825, was made to feel himself at home and under a 
hospitable roof. His personal magnetism and dig 
nity were not disproportionate to his rank in the 
State and Nation. An excellent illustration of this 
has been handed down by tradition in Halifax coun 
ty. 1 An important lawsuit was to come before the 
Court of Quarter Sessions in Halifax about 1830. 
The point at issue was the validity of a will. The 
suit depended on Macon s evidence. Gavin Hogg, 
a prominent lawyer of the day, declared in bold 
braggadocio that he would examine Macon in such 
a way as to break down his evidence, and thus de 
stroy the will. Hogg was to receive a fee of five 

i Related by Hon. Josephus Daniels of Raleigh. 



MACON S LAST YEARS. 373 

hundred dollars if he discredited Macon s testimony 
a large fee at that time. But when the suit was 
called, and Macon appeared in the court-room, Hogg 
began to feel uneasy; he went to the witness, who 
received him so suavely and so overcame him by 
his personality that the lawyer gave up his plan, and 
declined to cross-question Nathaniel Macon, decid 
ing to accept his statements as given, though this 
meant the loss of the suit. 

The relations of the retired Sage of Buck Spring, 
despite the homely name, with his neighbors were 
such as few men and communities have ever en 
joyed. Everyone, high and low, visited him with 
out ceremony. And he returned their visits, thus 
keeping in close contact with all classes of people 
for miles around. An aged man who used to work 
on Macon s plantation tells of instances of Macon s 
going to his father s house and upbraiding him for 
not keeping up his visits as of old. At a country 
dance young Joseph Jones, of Shocco, made some 
blunder, and Macon, who, even at his advanced age, 
sometimes attended such meetings of the young, 
called Jones attention to his error on the ground \ 
that the young man was "a kinsman," and as such 
should know the right thing. In dealing with his 
relatives, as well as with his neighbors, he was most 
careful to require them to keep engagements to the \ 
letter. One of his fears for the dignity of public 
life was the apparent decline in the character of the 
Justices of the Peace. He was almost severe in his 
reprimand of a young neighbor, Drake, 1 who de 
clined an appointment as Justice by the Legislature. 
Drake reconsidered and accepted the honor. 

Macon took the greatest interest in the training of 

i The father of Caswell Drake of Warren county. 



374 NATHANIEL MACON. 

young men. On one occasion he advised a young 
relative to go to the University of Virginia after 
graduating at Chapel Hill, his idea being that at 
Charlottesville the young man would come into con 
tact with men from the various sections of the Uni 
ted States. Macon gave him a letter to Jefferson, 
even though the latter was then in his eighty-third 
year. A letter has recently come to light 1 which 
still better illustrates this side of Macon s character, 
and which at the same time shows something of the 
author s range of reading. It was written from 
Washington City, October 20, 1814, to Mr. Frank 
A. Thompson : 

"I could not, were I to try, tell you how much I 
have been pleased with reading your letter. Go on 
in your good determination and make yourself an 
honor to your parents and an ornament to the coun 
try. I am so pleased with your letter that I shall 
send it to your mother, unless you object to it. I 
feel no hesitation in saying to you that I approve 
your determination to study law, in preference to 
Physic; besides this, I think it right in all persons, 
whether parents or guardians, to consult the incli 
nation of young persons as to the learned profession 
they wish to study. If you should hereafter change 
your opinion and wish to practice, the law is quite as 
profitable as medicine, and as you prefer the law, 
let me advise you, while you are young, to make 
yourself perfectly acquainted with the history of 
England. When reading it pay particular atten 
tion to the changes made in the Judiciary and ob 
serve well the causes which induced Parliament to 
pass the laws which made the change ; you will also 
notice with attention the anxiety of Mr. Hume to 

i The letter is now in the Hall of History, Raleigh, N. C. 



MACON S LAST YEARS. 375 

excuse the kings in every tyrannical act. Next, be 
well acquainted with the history of our own coun 
try ; we ought to be well acquainted with the history 
of England, because our laws and customs are in 
a very great measure derived from her. The his 
tory of Charles the Fifth contains the best account 
that I ever saw of the feudal system, and is well 
worth reading. The study of Physic, if the lectures 
in any large city are attended, is much more costly 
than the study of law, and without attending the 
lectures no great advantage can be derived from the 
study. I repeat to you that I approve your choice. 
It is true, as you state, that the law is the road to 
eminence in the United States, and it is equally 
true that a man must be well acquainted with the 
laws in any other country to make a figure in it in 
public life. After reading the before-mentioned 
books, I would advise you to read the histories of 
Greece and Rome, and do not forget the Bible and 
New Testament. With them every one ought to be 
well acquainted. A very good plan to improve your 
self would be to read a paper in the Spectator or 
Guardian, and then write one as near like it as you 
can. After writing, compare yours and the origi 
nal together. This is the plan which Dr. Franklin, 
when young, adopted to improve himself and his 
style, and no man has written in a more easy and 
elegant style than the Doctor. The reading recom 
mended ought not to interfere in your school stud 
ies, when you begin Euclid. Be assured that it will 
always give me great pleasure to render you any 
service in my power, and believe that I am your 
friend, and that no one, not even your dear mother, 
is more anxious for you to do well and to make 
yourself a man of first-rate talents and respectabil- 



376 NATHANIEL MACON. 

ity than I am, and that you may be so is the sincere 
wish of 

"Yr. friend & relation, 

"NATH. MACON." 

- Macon s treatment of his slaves was characteristic 
of the man. Each Sunday morning, when the 
weather permitted, they were all required to assem 
ble "in clean clothes" in front of the "Great House" 
and hear their master read to them from the Bible. 
After the reading and a talk from Macon himself, 
one of the older negroes was called on to lead in 
prayer. If any boy disregarded this regulation of 
the plantation or failed to come in his best clothes, 
he was promptly flogged. And so careful was Ma- 
con in his observance of religious exercises, that he 
took all his "field hands" with him to church on 
Saturdays. It was a custom in the country then, 
and even now in North Carolina, to hold church ser 
vices once a month on Saturday. Hence, when 
simple "Brother Hudgins," the Baptist pastor near 
Macon s home, met his flock, he had the honor of 
preaching to the distinguished man whose negroes 
almost filled the gallery. Macon did not believe in 
emancipation. He held out no hope of freedom, no 
matter how faithful the slave. Emancipation meant 
to him the ruin both of the negro and of the Southern 
country; colonization was to him a humbug with 
which politicians hoped to catch votes. Kindly 
treatment, steady work and ample food and clothing 
were all the negro could expect. As to the negro s 
ever becoming a citizen, he never admitted such a 
possibility. In the Constitutional Convention already 
referred to, he declared that free negroes had no 
place in the State, that he could never be allowed to 
vote under any circumstances. He admitted that 



MACON S LAST YEARS. 377 

some of them had fought in the Revolution for 
American liberty, but this did not entitle them to 
vote, as it did not entitle many white men to exer 
cise the same privilege. The negro was the white 
man s property, pure and simple, and if by chance, or 
otherwise, he acquired his freedom, good policy 
demanded that he should enjoy no rank whatever in 
society. It would incite the main body of slaves to 
insurrection, which was so much feared in those 
days. 

One might be led by the attitude of Macon to 
wards religious matters to think him a strict church 
man. He was not a member of any church, though 
he professed to be of "the Baptist persuasion," and 
he attended that church regularly. His family be 
fore him had been Episcopalians, and his neighbors 
when a boy were chiefly of that denomination. The 
cause of his change was doubtless the heirarchical 
character and aristocratic organization of that 
church. The Baptists were then, as they are still, in 
tensely democratic in polity and in practice; their . 
simple and unpretentious lives were in accord with / 
his principles of life. He was a constant and close 
reader of the Bible, especially of the Jewish history 
and of Paul s writings. His Bible shows signs of 
much use, and his letters during the last thirty years 
of his life bear testimony to his familiarity with the 
Holy Scriptures ; he cited book, chapter and verse 
from memory. His speeches, too, were often inter 
spersed with quotations from the Mosaic writings. 
No other book was read half so much by him, and 
no other, except the book of human nature, supplied 
him with so many illustrations and practical truths. 

The most signal honor ever given a North Caro 
linian came to Macon in the naming of Ran- 
dolph-Macon College, Virginia, in the year 1830. 



378 NATHANIEL MACON. 

This institution, famous throughout the South for 
its sound educational policy and for the men whom 
it has graduated, was chartered under the laws of the 
State of Virginia in February, 1830. It was given 
the name of Randolph and Macon, according to the 
custom of the time, in honor of the two life-long 
friends and popular public characters of the Roa- 
noke valley. The college was located at Boydton, in 
Virginia, about half way between the homes of the 
men whose names it bore. Randolph-Macon was 
thus placed near the boundary line of Virginia and 
North Carolina, because it was to be the "seminary 
of learning" for the Methodist Episcopal Church 
of these two States. It was for a long time, how 
ever, the Methodist college for the whole South; 
it was liberally supported, and remained the college 
for the whole of upper Carolina and lower Virginia 
up to the outbreak of the Civil War. There was 
nowhere a better territory for such an institution; 
the wealth and culture of the section, based essen 
tially on slavery and planting, supplied a background 
to the new school, so that it was not simply a fitting 
school for young clergymen, but a favorite resort 
for the rollicking sons of a fox-hunting gentry. 

Why this institution, founded specially for the 
purpose of advancing Christian education, was 
named for men neither of whom openly professed 
faith in the Nazarene, is a pertinent question here. 
The popularity of Randolph and of Macon, first of 
all, and second, the desire to perpetuate the names 
of these extraordinary men, were the motives. It 
\vas, moreover, the custom in Virginia to give educa 
tional institutions the names of popular leaders. 
And there may have been a lurking hope in the 
minds of the founders of the College that the two 
old gentlemen, then nearing the end of life, the one 



MACON S LAST YEARS. 379 

without direct heirs, the other having no children 
then alive and no grandchildren who were not rea 
sonably wealthy, might possibly remember the young 
institution in their wills. If this was their hope, it 
was a vain one. Neither Randolph nor Macon ever 
gave the school which bears their names any financial 
aid whatever, so far as the records show. No written 
evidence of Macon s opinion of the College and its 
mission has been found; but tradition in and about 
Warrenton says he was sensible of the honor con 
ferred, and his love of education and plans for better 
public schools, which were expressed in 1835, vouch 
for the correctness of this view. It became the 
fashion in a few years with the youth of Warrenton 
and the surrounding country to go to the College, 
and a graduate of the institution of the year I844 1 
says that Virginia and North Carolina used to vie 
with each other as to which could send the most 
beautiful girls to the Boydton commencements. Ran 
dolph s religious preferences were with the Church 
of England, not with the Episcopal Church of 
Virginia. So he leaned rather towards the Presby 
terian college Hampden- Sydney of his own coun 
ty, but made it no gift. The statement that Ran- 
dolph-Macon, a Christian college, was named in 
honor of an infidel and for a politician who cared 
nothing for the Christian church, is not correct. 
Macon, as has been seen, was careful enough to con 
tradict any such assertion by his actions; and Ran 
dolph s letters, recently discovered by the author, 
show him to have been a believer in the Christ, 
though not according to any of the particular faiths 
then prevalent in the South. 

Notwithstanding the seeming incongruity and 
the failure on the part of Randolph and Macon to 

1 Captain Richard Irby of Nottaway, Va., now deceased. 



380 NATHANIEL MACON. 

leave the College any legacies, the Randolph-Macon 
trustees have never changed its name; and it is to 
day the best and only monument of any importance 
ever erected to their memories. 

For such a man as Macon to retire absolutely from 
public life in such times as those of 1828 to 1837 was 
not to be expected. He did retire officially, and he 
never again accepted emoluments for any service he 
rendered the public. For example, there is a re 
ceipt from every member of the Constitutional Con 
vention of North Carolina of 1835 in the State De 
partment at Raleigh, except from Macon. He 
wished to give that service to the public, it appears, 
and so refused to accept any pay, either for expenses 
Or services rendered. 

The first great question that agitated the coun 
try after Macon s retirement was the breaking up of 
Jackson s first Cabinet and of Calhoun s secession 
from the party of the President. Macon had sup 
ported Jackson and Calhoun in 1828, but only as a 
lesser evil than Adams and Rush. The Jackson 
and Calhoun followings had joined hands with 
the aim of getting a Southern President. Cal 
houn himself had expected to get Jackson s support 
for the successorship ; but soon after the new Ad 
ministration went into operation, the great South 
Carolinian saw clearly enough that the President was 
not disposed to do this, that he was not even hasty in 
securing a reduction in the tariff, which was so bur 
densome to South Carolina. Consequently, Calhoun 
severed all connection with the President and wrote 
his famous Nullification manifesto a document 
based on Jefferson s Virginia and Kentucky res 
olutions. 1 This breach came in 1831. Before 
matters drew to a crisis in Washington, the demo- 

Schouler, IV., 36-37. 



M AGON S lyAST YEARS. 381 

cratic Republicans of Virginia and North Carolina 
had developed John Randolph s and Macon s dogma 
of absolute States -rights to the point of instructing 
both Representatives and Senators in Congress how 
to vote. In the event that a member of the Senate 
refused to recognize this claim of his legislature, his 
resignation was to be loudly called for; the Repre 
sentative would be dealt with at the next election. 
Thomas Ritchie, the editor of the Richmond En 
quirer, was a champion of this school in Virginia. 
In North Carolina, Bedford Brown, Macon s pre 
ferred successor in the Senate after the death of 
Bartlett Yancey, was its best exponent. But the 
State was equally divided in 1828, and ex-Governor 
Iredell, a quasi-opponent of Macon s, was sent to the 
United States Senate to fill out the unexpired term. 
A little later Bedford Brown was elected to succeed 
John Branch, who had been called to a seat in Jack 
son s Cabinet. This divided the strength of North s ^ 
Carolina in the Senate. 

The question of instructing Senators by the State 
was a paramount issue in North Carolina s politics 
from the time of Macon s retirement until 1846. In 
1831 Willie P. Mangum was elected to succeed Ire- 
dell. Mangum and Brown were the standard bear 
ers of the two factions of the old Republican party, 
Brown being the strict constructionist and Mangum 
the latitudinarian, anti-Jackson man. These fac 
tions soon joined in a fierce contest for suprem 
acy. It was in this fight that the line of de 
marcation was drawn between the Democrats and 
the Whigs, both claiming, at first, Jefferson as their 
political teacher. At this time there were two politi 
cal papers of importance published in Raleigh: the 
old Raleigh Register, whose proprietors, the Gales 
family, had grown rich in the service of the Repub- 



382 NATHANIEL MACON. 

lican party, had been anti-Republican since I828; 1 
the more ancient Raleigh Star, formerly a violent 
opponent of everything the Register favored, was 
now a hearty supporter of Jackson. Of course 
\ Macon sided with the Jackson party and with 
Brown, and - we have proof of this in a letter of 
Macon s to Brown, April 10, 1830, in which he urges 
his correspondent to stand out for a payment of 
the National debt, reduction of the tariff, and the 
abandonment of Clay s internal improvement 
schemes. Brown replies that if the Clay policy con 
tinues "it can not but be looked on with dismay and 
apprehension by those who are friendly to preserv 
ing the limitations which the framers of the Consti 
tution designed to impose on the Federal govern 
ment." 1 He then brands as "selfish politicians" 
those who have combined to establish the "American 
system by which extortions are to be practised on a 
portion of the people of the Confederacy, a system 
more false to the prosperity of the Southern portion 
of America, better calculated to annihilate the sov 
ereignty of the States, could not have been devised." 
By this exchange of letters it is seen that both 
Macon and Brown were supporting Jackson. 

In June of the same year Macon writes Gallatin, 
then a bank president in New York, that he expects 
to make a public attack on the Bank of the United 
States, and asks Gallatin s assistance. A long letter 
and a magazine article favorable to the bank were 
the responses of Gallatin. Why Macon made this 
move can not be determined. There is some reason 
to believe that Jackson s special friends approached 
Macon, the life-long opponent of the bank, and 
secured his promise to attack it. Nothing could 

1 See last chapter, p. 366. 

2 Bedford Brown to Macon, April 29, 1830. 



MACON S LAST YEARS. 383 

have been more natural than for him to oppose 
the bank, and in view of his continued cordial sup 
port of Jackson, the Administration seems to have 
worked up this opposition nearly two years before 
Clay began his right in Congress for re-charter 
ing the National Bank. 1 The attack was not 
made general, but there was a continuous stream of 
opposition to the bank and its friends in North Caro 
lina until the re-cnarter failed, until Benton s ex 
punging resolution was passed in 1836." 

When Congress came together in 1831, Henry 
Clay returned to the Senate to oppose Jackson, 
as he had opposed Monroe in 1817-1820. He 
adopted a similar policy to that waged against Mon 
roe, except that he was now in the Senate with 
Webster and Calhoun, both enemies of Jackson, sup 
porting him. There was never a stronger coalition 
than this. It was soon perfectly organized, and a 
majority of both Houses was gained for its support. 
Clay selected the bank question as the issue of the 
next year a Presidential year. Jackson s influ 
ence was at this time at its lowest ebb as a result of 
the dissolution of his Cabinet. 

In North Carolina the United States Bank had 
always been unpopular ; Macon had fought it at 
every turn for forty years. But under the leader 
ship of Mangum, Judge Gaston, and others of the 
same political faith, the National Bank was gain 
ing rapidly on the popular mind in 1830. Branch 
banks were established in all the large towns, and 
these, in violation of the National banking laws, 
were issuing notes in competition with those of the 

1 See Gallatin s letter of Dec. 3, 1830, in The Nation, Jan. 15, 1903. 

2 Jackson was severely censured by the Senate in 1834 for removing 
the Government deposits from the U. S. bank. Benton began imme 
diately his long fight for his expunging resolution, which was finally 
carried two years later. 



384 NATHANIEL MACON. 

State banks. Since the National bank secured these 
notes, it was an easy thing for them to outstrip the 
State institutions. Party alliances in the old South 
of 1830 were arranged strangely enough. Calhoun 
having revolted from Jackson and assumed the posi 
tion and politics of John Randolph, was looking 
about for support from any and all parties. In 
North Carolina and Virginia he allied with the pro- 
bank and anti-instructing party, that is, with Maii- 
gum and Benjamin W. Leigh, with the Whigs who 
in the Nation opposed most violently all that -South 
Carolina favored. Macon, who from 1824 to 1827 
opposed both Jackson and Calhoun, now became an 
ardent Jackson man, and most determined opponent 
of Calhoun, though, as we shall see, Calhoun was 
the best representative of Macon s own life-long 
political creed, and in a few years he became its 
recognized champion before the world. 

Calhoun had favored the bank and internal im 
provements for twenty years, and Macon had 
not understood the change of heart, and so did not 
support the South Carolinian. Until the end of 
the war on the bank, Macon fought for the Admin 
istration, saying that no one could have convinced 
him in 1824 that Jackson would ever do the people 
so great a service as he had done. And what caused 
Macon to give his support the more gladly was the 
steady reduction of the National debt, the extinction 
of which had been his fondest hope ever since the 
foundation of the government. This forlorn hope 
of his for so many years was realized two years 
before Macon s death, and almost contemporary with 
this glad news came the final dissolution of the 
bank. 

Parallel to these gratifying deeds of Jackson came 
others which were as displeasing as they were per- 



M AGON S LAST YEARS. 385 

plexing to Macon. Calhoun s withdrawal from Jack 
son s party already described, and his famous mani 
festo on nullification, raised "a storm in the South/ 
as Ritchie s Enquirer termed it, which quieted down 
only when the whole South lay prostrate at the feet 
of the National government in 1865. The founda 
tion of the grievance was the "tariff of abomina 
tions," passed in 1828, through Clay s instrumental 
ity, and which Jackson gave no promise of reducing 
after he was made President. In fact, the Presi 
dent was not then strong enough in the face of Clay s 
coalition against him to remedy the evils which bore 
so heavily on the South. Nullification was Cal 
houn s remedy. Macon admitted the right to nul 
lify, but said the State so doing would have to 
secede from the Union : " I have never believed a 
State could nullify and stay in the Union, but have 
always believed that a State might secede when she 
pleased, provided she would pay her proportion of 
the public debt, and this right I have considered the 
best guard to public liberty and to public justice 
that could be desired." 1 

While he thus justified in a manner the move ojf 
South Carolina, he criticized severely the President s 
proclamation against nullification : "The proclama 
tion contains principles as contrary to what was the 
Constitution as nullification. It is the great error 
of the Administration, which, except that, has been 
satisfactory in a high degree to the people who 
elected the President." 2 Then calling to mind the 
Whiskey Insurrection in Pennsylvania, which he 
had approved, he said that South Carolina s case was 
as different as it could be. It was with feelings of 
great despondency he contemplated the situation, 

* Macon to Samuel P. Carson, February 9, 1833. 

* 1 bid. 

25 



386 NATHANIEL MACON. 

yet Calhoim s position was exactly what both Ran 
dolph and Macon had advocated from 1820 to 1828, 
and one which both would have approved but for 
the past career of the man who now took it. Macon 
dreaded war, however, with all the earnestness of 
his soul, and most of all a civil war, which, he said, 
would bring the final downfall of our free institu 
tions. 

Macon received letters from his former political 
associates urging him to use his influence with the 
President to avert the calamity which seemed about 
to fall upon the Nation. He wrote, August 26, to 
Jackson condemning his attitude towards South 
Carolina, especially the threat to send troops to that 
State. Macon held that the Government could not 
legally use force to maintain the Union. This was 
a government of opinion, a confederacy of inde 
pendent states, which could be peacefully dissolved 
whenever any member of it saw fit. Jackson re 
plied to Macon in a six-page letter of great force, 
in which he justifies his position, declaring that the 
National government has authority over every indi 
vidual in the United States authority, too, which 
each State had given and guaranteed on entering 
the Union. Macon s doctrine that a man was 
a citizen of his individual State and not of the Uni 
ted States received no credence with Jackson. The 
President closes with the following words : "I send 
you herewith the proclamation, the report from the 
department by which it was seconded, and the law 
passed consummating them. I hope you will re 
ceive them as an earnest of the high respect I bear 
you, and if, on comparing them, you find the prin 
ciples I have advanced and the measures I have 
recommended, the same in effect with those which 
were proclaimed and carried out by Mr. Jefferson, 



MACON S LAST YEARS. 387 

yourself and other fathers of the school of 1798, I 
hope you will do me the justice to believe that we 
follow the precedents of such high authority and 
which have been sanctioned by almost universal ap 
probation of the country from that time to this." 1 
Macon had referred to the proposed plan of enforc 
ing the embargo against New England in 1807, 
which Jefferson outlined and he, Macon, ap 
proved, confessing that, perhaps, they had gone too 
far in "those hot times." Jackson cited their prop 
osition as a precedent, and reminded Macon of his 
former position. 2 Macon was worsted in this tilt 
with old Hickory, though in the most friendly and 
courteous way possible, and, though there is only 
circumstantial proof of it, it is fairly certain that 
from this time on he ceased to criticise the President. 
He certainly gave him his open support in all things 
else to the close of his second term. 

In 1835 Macon was elected a member from War 
ren county to the North Carolina Constitutional 
Convention. There had been pretty steady and in 
creasing complaints against the Constitution formed 
at Halifax because of its discrimination against the 
West, which was now much more important than 
ever before. Macon had been identified with the 
East ; he did not desire any radical change, but sim 
ply amendments which should satisfy the West and 
meet the changed conditions. The Convention met 
in Raleigh early in June, 1835, and continued its ses 
sions until July n. Macon was made president by 
unanimous vote, the word unanimous being itali 
cized by all the papers which gave accounts of the 
proceedings. 

* Macon Papers. 

2 American Historical Review, July, 1901. This is one of the most in 
teresting letters in the Macon Papers, and it deserves to be read by all 
who would understand Jackson s attitude at this crisis. 



388 NATHANIEL A1ACON. 

Macon s life-long political creed may be summed 
up here, since it was at this time he had most to do 
in shaping the organic law of his native State : ( i ) 
Suffrage based on maturity of judgment and not on 
property holding; but this was to be limited once 
for all to the white race, no matter what the condi 
tion of the negro be or become. (2) Public educa 
tion supported by general taxation. (3) Annual 
legislatures. (4) The viva voce method of voting, 
because every citizen had the right to know how his 
representative voted in the Assembly; and "no man 
should be ashamed," said he, "to let his neighbors 
know how he cast his vote in all elections." (5) 
Religious liberty. (6) County integrity. (7) All 
officers, judges not excepted, should be elected for 
stated terms, and not during good behaviour. With 
the great fads of that day, advancement of com 
mercial and internal improvements, he had little 
patience. North Carolina was an agricultural 
community, not a commercial, and if her people 
could not become wealthy and great, they could 
remain happy and be virtuous. 1 His proposal for 
public education applied to free schools for white 
children, and included the State University, which 
he said should be moved to Raleigh, "education in 
cloisters," according to his judgment, "not being 
suitable for young men in a free country where 
knowledge of men and affairs is absolutely necessary 
to a successful career." Annual legislatures, the 
rule of the past, he could not persuade the Conven 
tion to maintain ; but viva voce voting in the legis 
lature and short terms of office he did succeed in 
getting established, and North Carolina has re 
mained faithful to his ideas on these subjects till the 

1 Debates of the Convention ; to letter Jefferson, February 2, 1822. 



MACON S LAST YEARS. 389 

present time. Religious liberty was not a difficult 
thing to establish in a State where such a man as 
Judge Gaston was about the only person discrimi 
nated against; and the county system remained the 
same until after the deluge of 1861-1865. The final 
result was that the old Constitution was amended 
and not made anew. These amendments, in addi 
tion to the changes already indicated, provided for 
senatorial districts arranged according to population, 
maintained the old property qualifications for hold 
ing office, and for voting, and prohibited all free 
negroes from participating in any way in the affairs 
of government. The election of Governor was to be 
by popular vote and not by the legislature, as under 
the old Constitution. The new features mark a 
spirit of liberality towards the West, in giving them 
their due voice in the law-making body and in the 
election of Governor ; but there was also manifest a 
much greater jealousy of the free negro than had 
characterized the former Constitutional convention. 
Slavery had grown to be an institution of threaten 
ing mien. 

It will hardly be surprising that Macon made a 
speech against accepting the work of the Convention, 
or of submitting it to the people for ratification, be 
cause of the failure of his plan for annual elections, 
and because the election of Governor was to be 
by popular vote, for he based everything on yearly 
elections, and often quoted Jefferson s dictum that 
when these cease, public liberty dies. He could 
not sacrifice this principle for any other advan 
tage whatever, and he carried this point so far 
that some of the newspapers, particularly the Ral 
eigh Register and Raleigh Star, were disposed to 
ridicule him. On the election of the chief magis 
trate by the people he was not so inveterate in his 



390 NATHANIEL MACON. 

opposition ; though he opposed, he did not give his 
reasons in his speech of protest. It was probably 
due to his sense of the. dignity of the office and his 
conservative inclinations in all matters pertaining 
to the State. Twenty members voted against ac 
cepting the work of the Convention as a whole. 

Macon made a short farewell speech in which he 
referred very gracefully to the harmony of the Con 
vention and the mutual forbearance of its members 
in the sometimes warm debates which had taken 
place. He closed with very simple but characteristic 
language: "This, I expect, will be the last scene of 
my public life. We are about to separate; and it is 
my fervent .prayer that you may, each of you, reach 
home in safety, and have a happy meeting with your 
families and friends, and that your days may be long, 
honorable and happy. While life is spared, if any 
of you should pass through the country in which I 
live, I should be glad to see you." 

But this was not the last scene of his public life. 
Already a most acrimonious Presidential campaign 
was beginning in North Carolina. The bank contro 
versy, nullification and the instruction of Senators 
were the questions which engaged the attention of 
the people. The bank question was involved in the 
Benton expunging resolution which the Legislature 
had instructed Mangum to support. Mangum re 
fused to recognize the instructions and voted against 
expunging. Bedford Brown, his colleague, was 
waging a bitter warfare on the man "who refused to 
be instructed by his State." Nullification was a 
white elephant on the hands of the Whigs, for 
strange as it may seem, Calhoun was supporting 
Mangum and his followers in North Carolina, while 
both Mangum and Brown were particularly anxious 
to repudiate nullification in all its forms. Each 



M AGON S LAST YEARS. 391 

party in the Van Buren campaign charged the other 
with being milliners and each with some degree 
of justice, for the ideas of Macon and Brown which 
culminated in instructing Senators naturally led to 
nullification, while the alliance of Calhoun and Man- 
gum for a purpose, could not be kept strictly secret. 
Again the very candidates for the presidency compli 
cated matters; Van Buren, the ablest of our public 
men of the second order, was the regular Jackson 
nominee, and to him not much objection could be 
made; but Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky, his 
running mate, had begun his career in Congress by 
engineering a tariff measure through the House. 
Since Henry Clay s rise to supremacy he had been 
forced into the opposition in that State, and had 
always been known for his obliging politics. It was 
not without difficulty that such a man as Macon 
could be brought to support him. Hugh L. White, 
a former supporter of Jackson, but who, on account 
of some real or imaginary slight,, had taken up the 
r61e of an opponent of the President in his own 
State, was now the Whig candidate for the presi 
dency. White was born in North Carolina and this 
gave him a claim on the votes of the State. John 
Tyler of Virginia was White s associate on the anti- 
Jackson ticket. This was giving both offices to the 
South, and for that reason the ticket appealed x 
strongly for sectional support. All the candidates 
had supported Jackson in 1828. 

There were now three enterprising newspapers 
published in Raleigh, all of which entered heartily 
into the fight for or against Van Buren. Both the 
old papers, the Star and the Register, had made 
unceasing w r ar on the President since the beginning 
of the bank controversy. In 1835, at the opening 
of the Presidential campaign, both these papers were 



392 NATHANIEL MACON. 

likewise violent opponents of Jackson s protege, Van 
Buren, of the advocates of the right of instruction 
and of the expunging resolution, which was still 
the issue of the day in Washington. The third 
paper had been established in 1834 as an organ of 
the Administration, receiving the public printing for 
the National Government at the very start. It was 
known as the Raleigh Standard, and was edited by 
Philo White, who in 1837 na d the distinction of car 
rying the Van Buren electoral vote to Washington. 
White was an able editor, and, it appears, a good 
politician; his ablest successor was the celebrated 
W. W. Holden. 

The Van Buren campaign had been on a full year 

I before Macon announced himself. When he did 
"come out" the Standard announced in an editorial 
that "Van Buren s political friends and supporters 
in North Carolina could have no stronger evidence 
than the approval of so distinguished a patriot of 
Republicanism (Nathaniel Macon), that theirs is the 
cause of Democracy and of the people." 1 Long be 
fore this, however, Macon had decided to give Van 
Buren his vote and influence. In the early days of 
the year he wrote a. letter to Van Buren commend 
ing his course and endorsing Jackson s administra 
tion. This letter also bore the news that Macon had 
given one of his grandchildren the name of the Vice- 
President. Both Jackson and Van Buren responded 
/warmly to this apparently much appreciated letter 

/and the candidate for the successorship took special 
pains to announce to Macon his policy of non-inter 
ference with slavery. 2 There were other reasons for 
Macon s supporting Van Buren. They had worked 
long and hard together in the Senate against most of 



1 Raleigh Standard, August 3, 1836. 

2 VanBuren to Macon, February 13, 1836. 



M AGON S LAST YEARS. 393 

the schemes of John Quincey Adams. They had 
agreed in everything. And again, when Van Buren 
was candidate for Vice-President in 1832, he had re 
ceived Macon s earnest support. There was no 
other man in the Union for whom Macon would 
have preferred to vote for the Presidency in 1836. 

The Congressional elections held in August, 1835, 
had resulted in the choice of seven anti-Jackson men 
out of a total of thirteen. Macon s district re 
mained Democratic, and Warren county gave only 
seventy votes out of five hundred to the Whig candi 
date. Still, North Carolina had been lost to the 
Democrats, though by only a small majority. At the 
same election, Virginia "had gone" Democratic by 
a very small margin. So both parties began to put 
forth their utmost efforts to win in 1836. Great ex 
citement was worked up on the subject of abolition. 
A citizens mass-meeting was held in Warrenton in 
September, 1835, at which a committee of vigilance 
was appointed to keep the people informed on the 
subject of Northern encroachments on the rights of 
the slave-holding States. The best citizens of the 
county took part, a relative of Macon presiding. 1 
Similar meetings were held in other counties. In 
March, 1836, a second Warren county meeting gave 
enthusiastic endorsement to Van Buren for Presi 
dent. 

April 9 General Henry Blount, of Nash county, 
as a representative man from the tenth district, 
wrote Macon asking him to offer himself as a Van 
Buren elector. Macon declined, but at the same 
time he stated positively that he should vote for a 
Van Buren elector, and added : "If the wisest man 
living had have predicted that Jackson would have 
done half the good he has for the people, no one 

i Raleigh Standard, September 10, 1836. 



39-i NATHANIEL MACON. 

would have believed him. His doings are known to 
everybody, and need not be repeated. He was man 
fully abused, because France would not execute the 
treaty, but the people have manfully supported him, 
and will, I hope, elect a successor who will do like 
(-him." As a result of this and other overtures, Ma- 
con formally announced his willingness to become a 
(Democratic elector in June. This decision became 
known throughout the State during July, and, as 
already mentioned, the Raleigh Standard made much 
of it. 

^ On the second Thursday in August, 1836, the first 
Governor under the new Constitution was to be 
chosen. Edward B. Dudley, president of the Wil 
mington and Weldon Railroad, was the Whig candi 
date ; Richard Dobbs Speight, son of a former Gov 
ernor and the present incumbent, was the Demo 
cratic nominee. An exciting campaign, in which 
public dinners and long toasts were the main fea 
tures, was waged all through the summer until elec 
tion day, when Dudley won by a majority of four 
thousand. The Whig politicians took this as an 
earnest of how the Presidential campaign would ter 
minate; the Democrats, especially their organ, the 
Standard, declared that the vote for Dudley was 
largely dependent on personal preference and local 
conditions. ^ At any rate, it served as a spur to Van 
"Buren s friends. Redoubled energy was injected 
into the Democratic fight; Macon s name was kept 
constantly before the people at the head of the elec 
toral ticket, which appeared in the first editorial col 
umn of all the Administration papers. September 
22 the Raleigh Standard appealed to the public to 
vote for Van Buren as follows : "People of the good 
old North State! Friends and supporters of the 

i Macon to Henry Blount, May 7, 1836. 



M AGON S LAST YEARS. 395 

principles of Jefferson ! Inhabitants of the land of 
Macon, the well-tried, the wise, the honest, the con 
sistent Republican, vote the Van Buren ticket." And 
two weeks later the same paper said, "Even now 
men of the purest patriotism, such as NAT. MACON 
and his political associates, are reviled by this sec 
tional party of Judge White." A favorite appeal of 
the Whigs for public support was the fact that both 
White and Tyler were Southern men, and this ad 
vantage was used with great effect to counteract the 
influence of the name of Macon. 

In the very thickest of the fight, William Henry 
Harrison was brought forward by the Whigs of the 
North in the hope of carrying the election of Presi 
dent into the House of Representatives, where that 
party had a majority. It was believed in North 
Carolina that Henry Clay was the author of this pro 
ject. The Democrats bent every energy to beat their 
opponents by trying to show that Harrison was an 
abolitionist. Letters of Harrison and Van Buren, 
declaring the attitude of the former to be that of an 
uncompromising opponent of slavery, that of the 
latter to be friendly to "the dread institution," were 
freely circulated in the State. There is no doubt 
that this appearance of a third ticket and the accom 
panying fear of another contest in the House of Rep 
resentatives, injured the cause of the Whigs. The 
Brown-Mangum fight helped the Democrats because 
the Whigs suffered Brown to be reviled as a man 
of "common manners, a man of the lower classes." 
Macon s name now appears in every Democratic pa 
per in bold capitals, attracting attention the moment 
the eye fell upon the paper. "If you would chase away 
the poisonous heresy of Nullification said they, "or 
avert the horrors of Disunion, go to the polls. Repub 
licans, and vote the Democratic ticket ; if you would 



390 NATHANIEL MACON. 

cling to the Union, if you would cherish your liber 
ties, and if you love your country, go to the elec 
tion and vote the Van Buren Republican ticket, 
headed by our venerable Father in Democracy, the 
HON. NAT. MACON." The Tennessee papers 
took up the strain, calling attention to the position 
of "the Father of Democracy. When such a man 
as old NAT. MACON supports Mr. Van Buren, 
how idle is it for the mush-room politicians of the 
present day to charge him with a want of attachment 
to Republican principles. We mention this fact be 
cause every man now of age knows the character of 
Macon for devotion to the Republican party and 
because we know that the opinion of such a man 
must weigh with the Republicans of Tennessee." 1 
Macon s name was a tower of strength to the Demo 
cratic party throughout the South. 

Towards the end of October came the news that 
Pennsylvania, in the State election held October n, 
had given a large majority for the Democratic cause. 
Calhoun had been strong there, and the interests of 
the ever-growing manufactures in that section 
caused the Whigs to expect the vote of Pennsylvania. 
The State elections there, said the Democrats, 
pointed to Van Buren s success. 2 The Whigs of 
North Carolina were now as much disheartened as 
their opponents had been two months before. There 
never was a more hotly contested campaign con 
ducted in North Carolina than this first great battle 
of the Whigs and Democrats. The result, tardily 
announced, showed a majority of 3,284 for Van 
Buren. It was not until November 30 that both 
parties accepted the count. It can scarce be doubted 
that Macon s influence turned the tide. The Stand- 

1 Tennessee Democrat, October, 1836. 

2 Raleigh Standard, October 20, 1836. 



M AGON S LAST YEARS. 397 

ard announced the vote of the "old thirteen States" 
as follows: "North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylva 
nia, New York, Connecticut and New Hampshire 
for Martin Van Buren ; the other six went for Har 
rison, Webster, Old Nick & Co." It was a curious 
breaking up of the old political boundaries. Only 
two Southern States gave majorities for the Demo 
crats, the others voting because of widely varying 
reasons for the Whigs. Clay had gained the South ; 
Calhoun had as yet effected nothing in his great 
scheme of united opposition ; the vote of South Caro 
lina, which he was said to "carry in his vest pocket," 
was given to Willie P. Mangum for President. This 
fulfilled the prophecy of the Democrats that the 
Whigs of North Carolina had entered into a corrupt 
bargain with the great Nullifier. Mangum resigned 
his seat in the United States Senate, as did also his 
friend, Benjamin W. Leigh, of Virginia, both rightly 
interpreting the election a condemnation of their 
refusing to vote for Benton s famous resolution. 

When the electoral college met in Raleigh^Decem- 
ber 7, Macon consented to an interview, the first and 
only one on record against him. It runs as follows : 
"The Hon. Nathaniel Macon, president of the col 
lege. Mr. Macon appeared at a loss for language to 
express his patriotic emotions at the success of those 
pure principles of Democracy of which he had been 
the devoted champion during the whole period of his 
political life declares it is his opinion that the elec 
tion of Mr. Van Buren is a far more important tri 
umph to Southern Republicans than even the success 
of Mr. Jefferson in 1801. Both were triumphs of 
principle; but Mr. Jefferson s nativity and residence 
were calculated to concentrate the whole South in 
his favor, while State pride, Southern feeling, and 
every local consideration were arrayed against Mr. 



398 NATHANIEL MACON. 

/Van Buren in North Carolina ; and that the Repub- 
\ licans should have succeeded in this embittered con 
test, with such odds against them, was," as Mr. Ma- 
con sincerely believed, "the best evidence in the 
world of the indomitable democracy of our people/ 1 
Casting his vote in and presiding over this electo 
ral college was the last public act of Macon s life, 
and his interview" the last message of his to the 
people of his "beloved Mother," North Carolina. 
There is probably no student of American history 
who agrees with him that the campaign of 1836 
was as momentous as that of 1800; but no one will 
dispute with him the indomitable democracy of our 
people." 

Macon retired to his home again, where he died 
June 29, 1837. Death came rather suddenly in his 
seventy-ninth year, though it was not unexpected to 
him. He died as he had lived, remarkably : when he 
felt that the hour was drawing near, which was 
early on the morning of the 29th, "he shaved him 
self," says the only authority we have on the subject 
(Edward R. Gotten), "dressed and lay down." Then 
sending for the physician, he inquired what his bill 
was, for Macon had been unwell some days, and 
paid it ; the undertaker was likewise paid for his 
work. About twelve o clock he passed away with 
out a struggle. He had provided in his will, accord 
ing to an old English and colonial custom, that all 
who attended his funeral should be furnished with 
"dinner and grog." Fifteen hundred people attend 
ed, and an eye-witness says, "No one, white or black, 
went away hungry." Macon s remains were buried 
beside those of his w r ite and son on a barren knoll not 
far from the house, and the graves were covered, ac 
cording to his directions, with a great heap of flint 

i Raleigh Standard, December 14, 1836. 



M AGON S LAST YEARS. 399 

rock. The explanation of this was given by him 
self: no one would desire to use these stones for 
building purposes, neither would any one consider it 
worth while to "remove them in order to cultivate 
such a poor piece of land." He gave explicit direc 
tions that no other monument should mark his grave 
and the people of North Carolina, according to their 
custom with most of their other leaders, have taken 
him at his word. The heap of stones remains undis 
turbed; broom-sedge and scrubby post-oaks sur 
round the place; and only within the last year has 
the spot been enclosed by any sort of fencing. 

The news of Macon s death spread fast over the 
State, and the public prints vied with each" other in 
paying their tributes of respect. The Raleigh Regis 
ter, the paper which he had done much to establish, 
said of him : "He has filled a large space in the his 
tory of the State, and doubtless some one compe 
tent to the task will do justice to his memory in a 
biographical sketch." The greatest Democratic pa 
per in the country, the Hnquirer, announced his 
death to the world on July 4 in the following char 
acteristic language : "The whole nation will sin 
cerely share in this deep regret. Mr. Macon was 
one of those patriots who fill a vast space in the 
nation s eye. No one ever more completely exempli 
fied the elevated character of the Roman poet : J us ~ 
tarn et tenacem propositi virum. But we forbear. 
We leave it to abler pens to do justice to Nathaniel 
Macon." 1 



Time enough has elapsed for candid students to 
assign to Nathaniel Macon his rightful place in the 
history of North Carolina and of the United States. 

i Despite these predictions, no one rose to do him justice : and North 
Carolina, falling into the hands of his political opponents, knows 
very little of this most typical, il not greatest, of her sons. 






400 NATHANIEL MACON. 

From a militia volunteer in the Camden campaign, 
he rose to the position of an influential political 
leader of the Willie Jones school in North Carolina, 
to that of Speaker of the National House of Repre 
sentatives, leader of the Madison administration in 
1810, member of the United States Senate, and pres 
ident of the North Carolina Constitutional Conven 
tion of 1835. I n a H of these stations he enjoyed 
the satisfaction of having distinguished himself, 
and above all of knowing that his State and the 
South Country" approved of his course. In fact, 
his place in history must be determined by his rela 
tions to the South as a distinct section of the nation. 
He believed with Jefferson, and more especially 
"with Jones, that the State was the centre of power 
/in this country, and that next to the State the South 
had the first demands on his service ; he was among 
the first to suggest the annexation of Florida, and, 
with John Randolph, he first laid down the dictum, 
which the South accepted and clung to until 1865, 
that no compromise on the slave question should be 
admitted by the South. In fact, Macon must be re 
garded as Randolph s counterpart in founding the 
creed of the secessionists; he was a stronger and 
more influential man than "his brilliant but flighty 
friend of Roanoke." In the Senate he ranked very 
high, and in North Carolina he was the idol of the 
people. The question has often been asked, "Was 
he a statesman?" He was a Southern statesman 
in the sectional sense; and the giving of his name 
to counties and towns all over the South shows that 
he was so recognized. That is all that this very im 
perfect, yet somewhat painstaking, study of his life 
justifies the author in claiming for him. As such 
he opposed every encroachment on the rights of his 
section, and pleaded to the last moment of his polit 
ical life for the simple, straightforward interpreta- 



MACON S LAST YEARS. 401 

tion of the National Constitution. His life was a 
continued protest against everything- Henry Clay 
advocated, against every principle the realization of 
which brought civil war and frightful bloodshed, 
against every extravagance for which the name of 
the National government has since become synony 
mous. He was no great man in the ordinary sense 
of the word, but no taint of corruption ever touched 
his garments, and he served his constituents, the peo 
ple of North Carolina, more faithfully and more sat 
isfactorily by far than any other man who ever rep 
resented them. He actually believed in democracy. 

FINIS. 



26 



APPENDIX. 



A. DEBATE IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 
ON THE REPEAL OF THE FEDERAL JUDICIARY ^ 
ACT, FEBRUARY, 1802. 

In February when the debate on the Judiciary bill 
was at its height, Henderson, of the Salisbury dis 
trict, delivered the ablest speech from the Federalist 
point of view that had ever been offered by a North 
Carolinian on the floor of Congress. He outlined 
the opinions of his party leaders in general and 
especially of those from his State men who had 
gone into office by means of the Federalist victory 
of 1799. The General Assembly of North Carolina 
had passed resolutions of instruction to its dele 
gates in Congress calling on them to do all in their 
power to have the Federal Judiciary act of the last 
session repealed. It was indeed the custom of all 
the states at that time to vote similar resolutions on 
most important questions. It has already been 
shown that North Carolina s first representatives 
in the United States Senate were not re-elected at 
the expiration of their terms because they refused 
to be instructed." On this particular occasion the 
State had instructed its Senators and recommended 
to its Representatives how to vote. 1 Henderson 
announced that he refused to be instructed, that he 
did not pray "thy will, not mine be done" to the 
North Carolina Assembly. Henderson s position 
was that of his party, his arguments were along the 
line of Bayard s and Griswold s. His closing re 
marks were worthv of Fisher Ames, "if the doc- 

i Annals of Congress, ?th Cong , ist Sess., 523. 



APPENDIX. 403 

trine contended for by gentlemen on the other side 
of the House should become the settled construction 
of the Constitution, and enlightened America acqui 
esce with that construction, I declare for myself, 
and for myself alone, I would not heave a sigh, nor 
shed a tear over its total dissolution. The wound 
you are about to give it will be mortal ; it may lan 
guish out a miserable existence for a few years, but 
it will surely die. It will neither serve to protect its 
friends nor defend itself from the omnipotent ener 
gies of its enemies. Better at once to bury it with 
all our hopes." 1 * 

John Stanly, of New Berne, followed his leader 
in a speech of greater length but less declamation. 
His position with reference to the right of the State 
to instruct delegates in Congress was the same as 
Henderson s. Independence of the Judiciary was 
his theme and his closing prediction was : "Should 
this measure pass, it will be the first link in that 
chain of measures which will add the name of 
America to the melancholy catalogue of fallen Re 
publics." The Federalist party in North Carolina 
never was better represented than at this time nor 
more numerously. In addition to Henderson and 
Stanly, William B. Grove, of Fayetteville, and Wil 
liam H. Hill, of Wilmington, ardently supported its 
policy. 

Following Stanly s address came an exciting and 
impassioned debate between Giles, of Virginia, and 
Bayard, of Delaware, in which the latter reviewed 
Jefferson s appointments claiming that Charles 
Pinckney was sent as minister to Madrid, W. C. C. 
Claiborne appointed Governor of Mississippi in 
reward for campaign services in 1800; that Linn, 
of New Jersey, "the man who secured the Presi- 

* A.nnals of Congress, 7th Cong., ist Sess., 530. 



404 APPENDIX. 

dent the vote of his State," Lyon, of Vermont, and 
Edward Livingston, of New York, were all helped 
into lucrative offices in reward for faithful party 
work. Every kind of corruption and political trick 
ery was charged against the President and most of 
the leaders of both parties made set speeches. It 
was at this point that Macon made the longest and 
most characteristic speech of his congressional ca 
reer. 

B. MACON S SPEECH ON THE REPEAL OF THE JUDI 
CIARY ACT, FEBRUARY 23, iSc.2. 1 

"MR. SPEAKER: I should not, I believe, have 
spoken on this question, had not my colleagues, 
who differ with me in opinion, throught proper 
to bring into view a vote of the Legislature 
of the State, instructing her Senators and recom 
mending it to the Representatives to use their 
best endeavors to obtain a repeal of the last 
Judiciary Act. On this resolution of the State 
1 ,egislaturc they made some extraordinary remarks, 
which I mean to notice; but first permit me to 
inform the Committee, that it has been the constant 
practice of the Legislature of the State, from the 
commencement of the general government to the 
present day, to instruct her Senators and to recom 
mend to her Representatives, to pursue such meas 
ures on all the great national questions that have 
occurred, as the Legislature judged the interest of 
the State required, and this proceeding has never 
been considered improper. I shall endeavor to 
answer the gentlemen in the order they spoke, 
beginning with my colleague, (Henderson), who 
was first on the floor. If I understood him rightly, 

i See above, pages 174, 175. 



APPENDIX. 405 

(and if I do not he will correct me, because it is not 
my desire to mistake a single word), he said that the 
Legislature of the State might have adopted the res 
olutions in consequence of the message of the Pres 
ident; but, upon examination of the dates, this will 
be found to be impossible. The message could not 
have reached the Legislature before the question on 
the resolutions was taken and decided ; and on no 
important questions was that body more unanimous ; 
and though my colleague has said the question was 
there viewed but on one side, and decided in a man 
ner ex parte, yet I will be bold to say, if there were 
any member in that Legislature who thought on this 
subject as he does, he enjoys the same right there 
that my colleague does here, to deliver his senti 
ments. 

"Knowing, as I do, the great talents and integrity 
of my colleague, and I believe no one on this floor 
knows them better, I was surprised when he 
charged others with being under the influence of 
passion, when his conduct must convince them that 
he was guided by the very same passion which he 
attributes to others. He quoted the Constitution of 
North Carolina; let us examine it and see whether 
his arguments can be aided by the practice under that 
instrument. The thirteenth article is in the follow 
ing words, that the General Assembly shall, by 
joint ballot of both Houses, appoint judges of the 
Supreme Court of law and equity, judges of admir 
alty, and attorney-general, who shall be commis 
sioned by the Governor, and hold their offices during 
good behavior/ On this clause he quoted the inde 
pendence of the State judiciary ; and they are inde 
pendent so long as the law creating their office is in 
force, and no longer ; and it is worthy of notice that 
in this section no mention is made of salary, and yet 



406 APPENDIX. 

the judges have been considered as independent as 
the judges of the United States. Soon after the 
adoption of the Constitution, the Legislature of the 
State established courts in conformity thereto; first 
county courts, and then superior, and afterwards, 
by a legislative act, without electing a single new 
judge, gave the superior courts the additional juris 
diction of a court of equity, and never a solitary 
complaint that this law was unconstitutional ; and it 
must be acknowledged, that if you can make the 
court of law also a court of equity by legislative 
act, you can, by the same power, take away; 
and what becomes in this case, of the com 
mission which is to be held during good 
behavior? It is, according to my construction, to 
last no longer than the law which created the office 
remains in force, and this is long enough to make 
the judges independent. As to the salaries of the 
judges of North Carolina, the twenty-first section 
of the Constitution says, they shall have adequate 
salaries during their continuance in office, and yet 
with this clear right in the Legislature, to lessen as 
well as to add to their salaries, the judges, it is 
agreed, are independent. My colleague well knows 
that many attempts have been made to deprive the 
Superior Courts of exercising any jurisdiction in 
cases of equity; and he also knows that attempts 
have been made to establish a court of appeals, 
which should revise the decisions of the Superior 
Courts now in being ; and by the Constitution of the 
State any Supreme Court may on presentment of a 
grand jury, try the Governor for maladministra 
tion, etc., and I believe the present courts are 
authorized to do this. I have not at this place been 
able to see the act which gives this authority, but no 
doubt is entertained of the fact. 



APPENDIX. 407 

"It is clear, then, that in North Carolina, all par 
ties have thought that during good behavior only 
meant so long as the office existed ; because, by es 
tablishing a court of appeals the judges now in bein^ 
would not be supreme judges, and in all these vari 
ous attempts no one ever charged either of them to 
be unconstitutional. On examination of the Con 
stitution of North Carolina it will be found that it 
makes provision for the appointment of other offi 
cer.*- of the Legislature, but says nothing about ade 
quate compensation, except in the section last read, 
and if you take the office away, what is an adequate 
compensation for doing nothing? Another proof 
might be drawn from the Constitution of North 
Carolina, in favor of the opinion I hold, which is 
taken from the twenty-ninth section, that no judge 
of a Supreme Court shall have a seat in the General 
Assembly, because they are supreme. And he also 
knows that no one ever doubted the constitutional 
right of the Legislature to establish the courts 
before mentioned ; and it seems to me this, on his 
construction, would be a violation of the Constitu 
tion, because, having once made a Supreme Court 
it must always remain so, to secure what he calls 
the independence of the judges. 

"Sir, I was astounded when my colleague said 
that the judges should hold their offices, whether 
useful or not, and that their independence was 
necessary, as he emphatically said, to Protect the 
people against their worst enemies^ themselves; 
their usefulness is the only true test of their neces 
sity, and if there is no use for them they ought not 
to be continued. I will ask my colleague whether, 
since the year 1783, he has heard any disorder in 
the State we represent, or whether any act has been 
done there which can warrant or justify such an 



408 APPENDIX. 

opinion, that it is necessary to have the nidges to 
protect the people from their worst enemies, them 
selves. I had thought we, the people, formed this 
government, and might be trusted with it. My 
colleague never could have uttered this sentence had 
he not been governed by that passion which he sup 
poses governs others. It is true that we are not a 
rich and wealthy State, but it is equally true that 
there is no State in the Union more attached to 
order and law; and my colleague himself would 
not say that it was necessary to have judges for 
this purpose in the country we represent ; the people 
there behave decently without having Federal 
judges or standing armies to protect them against 
themselves. Is it not strange that the people should 
have sense enough to pay their taxes without being 
driven to it by superior force, and not have sense 
to take care of themselves without this new Judici 
ary ? They certainly contrived to do this before the 
act establishing this Judiciary passed. 

"Another expression of his equally astonished 
me ; he said that on the 7th day of December a spirit 
which had spread discord and destruction in other 
countries, made its entry into this House. What! 
are we to be told, because at the last election the 
people thought proper to change some of their rep 
resentatives and put out some of those who had 
heretofore been in power, and to put others in power 
of different opinions, that a destroying spirit entered 
into all the public functionaries? For what, sir, 
are elections held, if it be not that the people should 
change their representatives when they do not like 
them ? And are we to be told from the house-tops 
that the only use of elections is to promote, not pub 
lic good, but public mischief ? We are also told that 
this Constitution was to be destroved bv the all-de- 



APPENDIX. 409 

vouring energies of its enemies. Who are its ene 
mies ? We are not, nor do I think there are any in 
this House; but there are parties as well in this 
House as out of doors, and no man wishes more sin 
cerely than I do that they were amalgamated, that 
we might get rid of all party gall, and free ourselves 
from improper reflections hereafter. But by what 
energy is the Constitution to be destroyed? The 
only energy heretofore used, and which made the 
change so much complained of, was the energy of 
election. Sir, I scarcely know what to say when I 
hear such uncommon sentiments uttered from a head 
so correct, and a heart so pure ; it is the effect of a 
passion of which he is unconscious. Again he says 
if you repeal the law the rich will oppress the poor. 
Nothing but too much law can anywhere put in the 
power of the rich to oppress the poor. Suppose 
you had no law at all, could the rich oppress the 
poor ? Could they get six, eight or ten per cent for 
money from the poor without law ? If you destroy 
all law and government can the few oppress the 
many or will the many oppress the few? But the 
passing of the bill will neither put it in the power 
of the rich to oppress the poor, nor the poor to 
oppress the rich. There will then be law enough in 
the country to prevent the one from oppressing the 
other. But while the elective principle remains 
free, no great danger of lasting oppression, can be 
really apprehended; as long as this continues the 
people will know who to trust. 

"He has also brought into view the repeal of 
internal taxes, and the naturalization law, and these 
are some of the measures which this destructive 
spirit approves; and will they oppress the poor; 
will the repeal of taxes oppress the poor, or will it 
oppress anybody? If it will, the people will cry 



410 APPENDIX. 

out with the gentleman from Virginia (Ran 
dolph), give us more oppression. You can not 
give us too much of this kind of oppression, pro 
vided you pay our debts and protect us at home 
and abroad. One word respecting the naturaliza 
tion law observe the danger apprehended by 
North Carolina on this head ; the fortieth section of 
her Constitution is in the following words, that 
every foreigner who comes to settle in this State, 
having first taken an oath of allegiance to the same, 
may purchase, or by other just mean s, acquire, 
hold and transfer land or other real estate, and 
after one year s residence shall be deemed a free 
citizen. After this can we believe the people of 
the State have any fear of the few aliens that may 
wish to settle among them? 

"It is asked, will you abolish the mint, that splen 
did attribute of sovereignty? Yes, sir; I would 
abolish the mint; that splendid attribute of sover 
eignty, because it is only a splendid attribute of sov 
ereignty, and nothing else ; it is one of those splen - 
did establishments which takes money from our 
pockets without being of any use to "us. In the . 
State that we represent I do not believe there are as 
many cents in circulation as there are counties. 
This splendid attribute of sovereignty has not made 
money more plenty; it has only made more places 
for spending money. 

"My colleague next said, what I sincerely wish 
he had not said, that if you pass the bill, he would 
neither shed a tear nor heave a sigh over the Con 
stitution. If we pass the bill, and the people should 
think we did wrong in so doing, nay, that it violates 
the Constitution in their opinion, have they not the 
power to bring it back to its original stamina, by a 
peaceable corrective, which thev can exercise everv 



APPENDIX. 411 

two years at the elections? Suppose this done, 
would not the Constitution then be worth some 
thing, even in his estimation? Would it not be 
better to cherish this expectation than to destroy 
the Constitution and put everything afloat? Would 
not this be much better than confusion, anarchy, and 
the sword of brother drawn against brother? As 
to myself, I confide in the people, firmly believing 
they are able to take care of themselves, without 
the aid or protection of any set of men paid by them 
to defend them from their worst enemies, them 
selves. 

"Permit me here, sir, to advert to the resolutions 
of North Carolina. (Macon read the instructing 
resolutions.) In commenting upon these resolu 
tions my colleague certainly used very complaisant 
language towards the Legislature of that State ; 
but it seemed to me that he gave them a back 
handed compliment when he said they passed these 
resolutions without a fair hearing. But, sir, is 
there anything indecent in them? Have they ex 
pressed a sentiment which they had not a perfect 
right to express? They wish the law repealed, 
because they believe the old system adequate. 
They wish the law repealed because it pro 
duces a useless expense. This, perhaps, they 
more sensibly felt from being in the habit 
of conducting their public affairs with the great 
est economy; and, finally, they wish the law 
repealed, because it is an useless extension of exec 
utive patronage ; and they, at the same time, declare 
that they have due confidence in the Chief Magis 
trate of the Union. Yet they do not wish offices 
continued merely that persons may be appointed to 
fill them. I perfectly agree with them in every par 
ticular. 



412 APPENDIX. 

"We have heard much about the judges, and the 
necessity of their independence. I will state one 
fact, to show that they have power as well as inde 
pendence. Soon after the establishment of the Fed 
eral courts they issued a writ not being a profes 
sional man I shall not undertake to give its name 
to the Supreme Court of North Carolina, directing 
a case then pending in the State Court to be 
brought into the Federal Court. The State judges 
refused to obey the summons, and laid the whole 
proceedings before the Legislature, who opposed 
their conduct, and, as well as I remember, unani 
mously; and this in that day was not called disor 
ganizing. 

"As so much has been said about the resolutions 
of North Carolina I will repeat again, that it is no 
uncommon thing for the Legislature to express 
their opinion on great National subjects, and will 
ask my colleagues whether they ever heard any com 
plaint of the resolutions about the Western land? 
And whether none of them in the Legislature ever 
voted for the resolutions about the Western land, 
nor about postoffices and postroads? The Legis 
lature surely had as much right to give an opinion 
as the Chamber of Commerce of New York; but, 
put it upon what footing you please, it is entitled to 
respect as the uninfluenced opinion of so many 
respectable individuals; and the Legislature never 
intended nor wished that the recommendation to 
the representatives should be binding on them at 
all events ; and if I believed the bill to be unconsti 
tutional, I should not vote for it, but as I do not, I 
hope the gentleman will pardon me for pursuing my 
own sentiments, and voting for it. I hope no man 
will ascribe to me a disposition to produce anarchy 
in my native country. Although poor myself I feei 



APPENDIX. 413 

as strong a desire as any one on this floor for the 
preservation of good order and good government. 

"If it has been asked by the gentleman from Dela 
ware (Mr. Bayard) will the gentleman from Vir 
ginia (Mr Giles) say the assuming of the State debts 
was improper? I have no hesitation to say it was 
done at an improper time; and, in showing that it 
was I hope I shall be pardoned for traveling over 
topics that really have nothing to do with the merits 
of the present question. The act is now done, and, 
by what I say, it is not to be understood that I wish 
Congress should put their hands upon it. It will 
be noticed that Congress is authorized to establish 
postoffices and post roads for the general and equal 
dissemination of information throughout the 
United States ; and it is not known that no 
act was passed on that subject before the as 
sumption -of the State debts, and that there 
was only one post road which runs near the 
sea coast? Of course, the people in the interior 
country had no communication with those in the 
government, nor had they any knowledge of what 
was doing. But the rich speculator, who was on 
the spot, by going into the country where the peo 
ple were ignorant of what had been done purchased 
up their certificates the only reward they had 
received for their toil and wounds at about one- 
tenth of their value. And it is possible that many 
of these purchases may have been made with public 
money. 1 And it is clear to me that if a proper 
number of post roads had been established before 
the act was passed for assuming the State debts the 
war-worn soldier would not have lost half as much 
as he did by the speculation on his certificates. 

"The gentleman from Delaware says we drove 

1 See Macon s resolution on this subject, p, 65. 



414 APPENDIX. 

them to the direct tax. This is the first time I ever 
heard of a minority driving a majority. Is such a 
thing possible ? Did we drive them to the measures 
that made such immense expenditures of the public 
money necessary? No sir; we opposed those 
measures as useless; and the true ground of the 
direct tax is this : the public money was expended ; 
public credit was stretched, until to preserve it it 
became necessary to provide for paying, and the 
means adopted were the direct tax. 

"The same gentleman tells us there is nothing 
sacred in the eyes of infidels. We know our oppo 
nents. The allusion here is too olain not to be 
understood; and evidently is that those who differ 
with him in opinion are infidels. This is a strong 
expression; it would have seemed that his love of 
Americans ought to have prevented the use of it. I 
shall make no answer to it, except to remind him 
that in a book the truth of which he will not deny, 
he will find these words, Judge not, lest ye be 
judged. He also said that gentlemen might look 
to the Executive for victims and not to the judges. 
Notwithstanding this remark and without condemn 
ing or approving the appointments made by the 
late President, I hope I may be permitted to express 
my own ideas, without being considered under the 
influence of the present President. Prior to the 
fourth of last March, all, or nearly all, the offices in 
the gift of the Executive were in the hands of men 
of one political opinion. On that day the people 
changed the President because they did not like 
measures that had been pursued. But, to those 
who had attended to the debates in this House it 
must appear strange, indeed, to hear gentlemen com 
plain of the President for having in office those who 
agree with him in opinion, when we were form- 



APPENDIX. 415 

erly told that the President would do wrong if he 
appointed to office those who differed from him in 
political opinion; and whenever he had done it he 
had had cause to repent of it. Was that opinion 
then correct, and now false, in the estimation of 
gentlemen ? For my part, I did not think the opin 
ion correct when I first heard it, nor have I since 
been convinced of its propriety. Indeed, before I 
can think so I must have a worse opinion of human 
nature than I now have, and think of men as they 
pretend to think of us, which God forbid ! But, 
taking things as they are what course, on this point, 
is most fair and tolerant ? The community, as well 
as this House, is divided into two parties. It seems 
to me that all the most tolerant could wish would 
be an equal division of the offices between the par/ 
ties and thus you might fix a reciprocal check on 
each other. But I ask gentlemen to be candid, and 
tell me whether they are at this time equally 
divided ? Sir, they know that there are many more 
persons who now fill offices who agree with them in 
opinion than agree with us. As to myself, I care 
not who fill offices, provided they act honestly and 
faithfully in them. I can with truth say so little 
party attachment have I on this head that I never 
solicited to have any man discharged from office. 
Knowing that a large majority of those now in 
office agree with those gentlemen in political opin 
ion I am at a loss for the cause of all this clamor. 
They have no doubt some reason for it which has 
not been declared. The fact is they have a majority 
of the offices and a majority of the people are with 
us. I am contented it should be so. 

"The gentleman has dwelt much on a subject 
which, from my habits of life, I am not enabled fully 
to notice; I must decide for myself, and, judging 



416 APPENDIX. 

with the small share of information I possess I can 
not agree with him. I do not pretend to under 
stand the subject as well as he does, but certainly 
he was not so perspicuous as might have been 
expected. I mean, sir, his opinion on the common 
law. He told us that the judges only adopted 
such parts of the common law of England as suited 
the people and that he apprehended no danger from 
this. Sir, I do apprehend danger from this, because I 
can not find any authority given them in the Constitu 
tion to do it, and I suppose it is not an inherent right. 
Without pretending to know the extent of this 
common law, it has always appeared to me to be 
extremely dangerous to the right of the people, for 
any person not elected by them to undertake to 
exercise the power of legislating for them, and this 
adopting the common law is only another name for 
legislation. He also told us, that the States had 
adopted it. If the States adopted it, it became a law 
of the State and not of the United States; but the 
adoption of it by the individual States could not 
give the judges a right to adopt it for the United 
States. The judges have no powers but what are 
given by the Constitution or by statute and this 
power can not be found in either. He even told us 
that the Constitution was a dead letter without it. 
I do not believe this was the opinion of the Conven 
tion that formed it and by an examination of the 
debates of the State conventions that ratified it, it 
will not be found to- be their opinion ; nor is it, I 
believe, the opinion of all the judges of the Su 
preme Court, that the Constitution would be a dead 
letter without the common law of England. I have 
understood, that one of them has given it as his 
opinion, that the common law was not in force in 
the United States. The gentleman told us that the 



APPENDIX. 417 

Sedition law was constitutional, and that the judges 
had so determined. This we have been told before ; 
but, in my opinion, the contrary is the fact. I 
firmly believe there is no authority given in the 
Constitution to pass that law, and although the 
judges agree with him in opinion, I believe the 
people agree with me. He, like my colleague, did 
not pretend to say that the judges under the old 
system had too much business, but too much riding. 
The whole burden of the song seems to be riding 
and salary, salary and riding; you may destroy the 
office, but the officer must have his salary, and this, 
I suppose, without riding. The old system was, in 
my opinion, equal to every object of justice con 
templated by its establishment. 

"The gentleman has ascribed to us the wish to 
have the courts viciously framed. Is it possible, 
that he can have so degrading an idea of the Ameri 
can people, as to suppose they would send men here 
to legislate on their dearest interests, so base and 
corrupt, as to wish their courts so formed that vice 
and not virute should prevail in them ? I am happy 
to say that gentleman is the only one who has 
uttered a sentiment so abhorent to human nature. 
He also said, if you permit the State courts to exe 
cute your laws, you would have no Constitution in 
ten years. I have not heard anyone express a de 
sire that you should have no courts, or that the 
State courts should execute your laws ; but I do not 
believe, that, if the State courts were to execute 
your laws, that they would destroy the Constitution 
which they are sworn to support. He has told us 
that we paid millions for an army which might be 
useless, and refused thousands to a judiciary which 
was useful. As to the army, those who agree with 
me in sentiment are as clear of it as it is possible 
27 



418 APPENDIX. 

for men to be of any political sin whatever; we 
always considered them useless, except in a small 
degree and voted against them. 

"But," says he, this is the President s measure; 
he may prevent it. This is indeed a bad assertion. 
Are a majority of this House so degraded, so mean, 
so destitute of honor or morality, as to act at the 
nod of a President? What the majority may here 
after do, I can not tell; but I can say, as yet they 
have done nothing which even the eye of criticism 
.can find fault with. But are we to infer from these 
charges, that it has heretofore been the practice for 
the President to give the tone to the majority of the 
House, and to wield them about as he pleased? I 
had before a better opinion of our adversaries. I 
had thought, and still think, that no man can wield 
a majority of this House ; that the House is, and has 
been, too independent for this ; to think otherwise, 
would be degrading to my country. Sir, I do not 
believe the gentleman from Deleware himself, with 
all his talents, can wield those with whom he votes, 
at his will and pleasure. 

"Much has been said about the manner in which 
the late law was passed (the Judiciary Act of 1801), 
and the purpose for which it was done. I hope I 
shall be pardoned for saying nothing on this sub 
ject; enough, if not too much, has already been said 
on it; nor can I conceive that it has anything to do 
with the question. 

"The question is, were there courts enough under 
the old system to do the business of the nation ? In 
my opinion there were. We had no complaints that 
suits multiplied, or that business was generally de 
layed ; and when gentlemen talk about Federal courts 
to do the business of the people, they seem to forget 
that there are State courts, and that the State 



APPENDIX. 419 

courts have done, and will continue to do, almost the 
whole of the people s business in every part of the 
Union ; that but very few suits can be brought into 
the Federal Courts, compared with those that may 
be brought into the State Courts. They will be 
convinced that under the old system we had Federal 
judges and courts enough; besides, sir, I believe 
each State knows best what courts they need, and if 
they have not enough, they have the power and can 
easily make more. I am sure the old system 
answered every purpose for the State I live in as 
well as the new. 

Until the present session, the people have not 
presented a single petition to this House on the sub 
ject of courts, and now, I believe, there are a major 
ity of the petitioners in favor of the repeal ; but 
their not having heretofore petitioned, is conclusive 
in my mind, that they were perfectly satisfied with 
the old system. They know that they have the 
right to petition, and we know that they have exer 
cised it whenever they pleased, and if they wanted 
these new courts, they would have told you so by 
petition. 

"The gentleman said he would forgive the gen 
tleman from Virginia (Mr. Giles) for everything 
he said, except disturbing the ashes of the vener 
able dead. I did not understand the gentleman 
from Virginia to say a word about the illustrious 
Washington. It is needless for me to say what I 
think of him; I have said before what my opinion 
was ; I sincerely regret that ever his name should be 
mentioned in this House in such debates as these, 
respect for his memory ought to forbid it. 

"He also told us, that we attempt to do indirectly 
what we can not do directly. I do not know of any 
such attempts. The bill is certainly a direct attempt 



420 APPENDIX. 

to repeal the act of last session; but I have seen 
things done indirectly which I believe could not have 
been done directly ; such was the army of volunteers ; 
it surely was an indirect attempt to officer and get 
possession of the militia. The same gentleman chal 
lenges us to say there are any in the United States 
who prefer monarchy. In answer to this I say, there 
were such during the American Revolutionary War, 
and I have not heard that they had changed their 
opinions; but as he has told us there are jacobins in 
the country, it is not unfair to suppose there are mon 
archists, they being the two extremes. We are also 
charged with a design to destroy the whole Judici 
ary. If there is such a design, this is the first time 
I ever heard it ; no attempt of the kind is yet made. 
But what is the fact? We only propose to repeal 
the act of the last session, and to restore the Judici 
ary exactly to what it was for twelve years, and 
this is called destroying the Judiciary. 

"The same gentleman told us that under the new 
system you would have an uniformity of decision 
in each circuit, and that it was not very desirable 
to have it uniform in every circuit. I differ with 
him; I think uniformity of decision desirable, for 
this reason, that a person knowing a decision of the 
Federal court on any given point in any part of the 
Union, may know that the same decision would pre 
vail in every other court of the United States ; and 
unless there is an uniformity of decision, you may 
have a different one in each circuit ; a determination 
one way in Delaware, another in Maryland. But, 
sir, from the very nature of the courts, you must 
have an uniform decision in either system ; because, 
if different courts should decide differently, appeals 
would soon be carried to the Supreme Court, where 
the question would finally be settled. 



APPENDIX. 421 

"Another curious principle was advanced by the 
gentleman, which was this, that the judges received 
their pay from the date of their commissions. If 
they do, I am confident they are the only officers 
appointed by Government that do. I had always 
before understood, that the pay of officers did not 
commence until they accepted their appointments. 
On this idea a judge might have pay as a circuit 
judge, while he was holding court as a district 
judge, because he might be a district judge, and 
appointed a circuit judge without his knowledge; 
and before he was informed of his new appointment, 
might hold the court under the old, and the gentle 
man himself would not pretend to say that the pro 
ceedings of the court in such case would be illegal 
or irregular. The salary of the President is brought 
into view. I have never heard these gentlemen 
before complain that it was too high ; if it is, I am 
perfectly willing to join them, and diminish it to 
what shall be deemed only an adequate compensa 
tion for services actually rendered, for the next 
Presidential term ; sooner, the Constitution will not 
authorize its reduction. 

"To complete the scene, we are told of the sword 
of civil discord, and of the sword of brother drawn 
against brother. Why such declamation ? Why do 
we hear of such things on this floor? It is for 
them to tell who use the expressions; to me they 
are too horrid to think of. Do gentlemen appeal 
to our fears rather than our understandings? Are 
we never to be clear of these alarms? They have 
often been tried without producing any effect. Every 
instrument of death is dragged into this question; 
sword, bayonet, hatchet, and tomahawk; and then 
we are told that the passing this bill may be attended 
with fatal consequences to the women and children. 



; 



422 APPENDIX. 

Can it be possible, sir, that the gentleman was really 
serious when he talked about an injury to women 
and children ? He also told us, if you pass the bill 
and it should produce a civil war, not only himself 
but many enlightened citizens would support the 
judges. And have we already come to this, that 
enlightened citizens have determined on their side 
in case of a civil war, and that it is talked of in this 
assembly with deliberation and coolness? We cer 
tainly were not sent here to talk on such topics, but 
to take care of the affairs of the nation, and pre 
vent such evils. In fact it is our duty to take care 
of the nation, and not destroy it. Compare this with 
the conduct of the former minority. I challenge 
them to show anything like it in all their proceed- 
ngs. Whenever we supposed the Constitution vio 
lated, did we talk of civil war? No, sir; we de 
pended on elections as the main corner stone of our 
safety; and supposed, whatever injury the State 
machine might receive from a violation of the Con 
stitution, that at the next election the people would 
elect those who would repair the injury, and set it 
right again; and this in my opinion ought to be 
the doctrine of us all; and when we differ about 
Constitutional points, and the question shall be de 
cided against us, we ought to consider it a tempo 
rary evil, remembering that the people possess the 
means of rectifying any error that may be commit 
ted by us. 

"Is the idea of the separation of these States so 
light and trifling an affair as to be uttered with calm- 
ness in this assembly? At the very idea, I shudder, 
and it seems to me that every man ought to look on 
such a scene with horror, and shrink from it with 
dismay. Yet some gentlemen appear to be prepared 
for such an event, and have determined on their 



APPENDIX. 423 

sides in case it should happen. For my part, sir, 
I deplore such an event too much to make up my 
mind on it until it shall really happen, and then 
it must be done with great hesitation indeed. To 
my imagination the idea of disunion conveys the 
most painful sensation ; how much more painful then 
would be the reality ! Who shall fix the boundaries 
of these new empires, when the fatal separation 
shall take place? Is it to be done with those cruel 
engines of death that we have heard of, the sword, 
the bayonet, and the more savage instruments of 
tomahawk and hatchet? And is the arm of the 
brother to plunge them into the breast of brother, 
and citizen to be put in battle array against citizen ; 
to make this separation which would ruin this whole 
country ? And why is all this to be done ? Because 
we can not all think alike on political topics. As 
well might it be said, because we can not all agree 
in the tenets embraced by each particular sect of our 
holy religion, because one is a Calvinist and another 
a Lutheran, that each should be employed in plung 
ing the dagger into the heart of the other. But sup 
pose, sir, you agree to divide these States, where is 
the boundary to be ? Is it to be a river, or a line of 
marked trees ? Be it which it may, both sides must 
be fortified, to keep the one from intruding on the 
other ; both the new Governments will have regular 
soldiers to guard their fortified places, and the peo 
ple on both sides must be oppressed with taxes to 
support these fortifications and soldiers. What 
would become, in such a state of things, of the 
national debt, and all the banks in the United States ? 
If we do wrong by adopting measures which the 
public good does not require, the injury can not be 
very lasting; because at the next election the people 
will let us stav at home, and send others who will 



424 - APPENDIX. 

manage their common concerns more to their satis 
faction. And if we feel power and forget right, 
it is proper that they should withdraw their confi 
dence from us ; but let us have no civil war ; instead 
of the arguments of bayonets, etc., let us rely on 
such as are drawn from truth and reason. 

"Another topic has been introduced, which I very 
much regret : it is the naming of persons who have 
received appointments from the late or the present 
President. I hope I shall be pardoned for not fol 
lowing their example. And one gentleman is named 
as having been an important member during the 
election of President by the late House of Repre 
sentatives. It ought to be remembered there were 
others as important as the gentleman named. In 
talking about the late or the present President, it 
ought not to be forgotten that they both signed the 
Declaration of Independence, that they both have 
been Ministers in Europe, and both Presidents of the 
United States. Although they may differ in politi 
cal opinion, as many of us do, is that any reason 
we should attempt to destroy their reputations ? Is 
American character worth nothing, that we should 
thus, in my judgment improperly, attempt to de 
stroy it on this floor? The people of this country 
will remember that British gold could not corrupt 
nor British power dismay these men. I have dif 
fered in opinion with the former President, but no 
man ever heard me say, that he was either corrupt 
or dishonest ; and sooner than attempt to destroy the 
fame of these worthies, to whose talents and exer 
tions we owe our independence, I would cease to be 
an American; nor will I undertake to say that all 
who differ from me in opinion are disorganizers or 
jacobins. 

"We have heard much about the document No. 8, 



APPENDIX.. 425 

sent to this House bv the President, and are told 
that it is not correct. Admit everything which has 
been said about it, and does it amount to anything 
like the least invalidating it? No, it only shows a 
clerical error of no importance, and it must be agreed 
to be sufficiently correct to prove the inutility of the 
late system. The gentleman from South Carolina 
told us, that many learned men who agreed with us 
generally in politics, differed with us on the present 
question. This I never heard before; but, suppose 
the fact to be so, it unquestionably proves that with 
us each man makes up his own opinion for himself. 
He told us of one, who had lately held a high office 
under the Federal Government, who had, when in 
office, made a report, a part of which was directly 
against our opinion, and that he was high in the 
ranks of the opposition. The opinion of that gen 
tleman formerly given is nothing more than this, 
that he at that time thought the then Judiciary sys 
tem might be amended. From the rank which he 
assigned to the author of the report, he is certainly 
much better acquainted with the opposition than I 
am. He included, among those who differed with 
us on the question, and who generally agreed with 
us, all the judges of Virginia. I am acquainted 
with but few of these gentlemen, and do not know 
anythng of the political sentiments of those with 
whom I am not acquainted ; but if the few with 
whom I am not acquainted differed with us in 
opinion, they would not esteem us the more for 
relinquishing an opinion before we were convinced 
it was erroneous. But, sir, judging from a pam 
phlet which has been read during this debate, and 
said to contain their opinion, it is clear to my mind, 
that we perfectly agree. The same gentleman read 
to the Committee a part of a lecture of one of the 



426 APPENDIX. 

judges of Virginia, which, if it strengthened his 
opinion on the present questions, ought to convince 
him that the Sedition law was unconstitutional. 
And what will he say to the opinion of the same 
judge, on the favorite doctrine that the common 
law of England is in force in the United States? 
He told us, by passing the bill we shall not save more 
than the small sum of $5,000. Here he and my col 
league (Mr. Stanly) differ a little in opinion. My 
colleague thinks the saving will be somewhere about 
$40,000, though not a dust in the balance. Sir, I 
would vote for the bill, on the principle of economy, 
if it would only save the useless expenditure of 
$1,000 of the public money. Let it be remembered 
that the public money in all countries is drawn from 
the sweat of the people. 

"The same gentleman told us that we ought 
to keep up these courts to convince the nations of 
Europe of the stability of our Government, to look 
respectable abroad. Sir, the public good alone shall 
be the principle by w r hich I will govern myself, with 
out considering what the people of Europe may 
think. I will never consent to keep up what I deem 
useless and expensive establishments, merely be 
cause it may make us look respectable abroad, or to 
convince the people of Europe of the stability of our 
Government. Nor can I believe the passing the bill, 
which is altogether an internal regulation, can affect 
our national character in Europe ; it is one of those 
internal regulations that the governments of Europe 
care nothing about. All that independent nations 
require of each other is, that they govern themselves 
with honesty and equity toward other nations. 

"The gentleman asked us to show him the clauses 
in the Constitution which authorize the repeal of the 
Judiciary act. I will answer this question, by ask- 



APPENDIX. 427 

ing another : Can he show any clause in the Consti 
tution which gives express and direct authority to 
repeal any law ? He can not ; there is no such clause. 
But the authority given to pass laws, gives also the 
authority to repeal, except in cases named, where 
you are expressly forbid, and this is not a forbid 
den case. The whole authority to repeal is an 
implied one; you may establish postoffices and post- 
roads, you may establish courts, and if you can 
repeal the one, you may repeal the other. 

"The gentleman says, if you pass the bill, you 
make the Judiciary dependent on a faction. Who 
is the faction, sir, the majority or the minority? 
Formerly, I have heard it said in this House, the 
majority was the nation, and the minority a faction ; 
and has the meaning of these words changed ? This 
the gentleman did not tell us. 

"He also told us, there were but two ways of 
governing; one by the Judiciary and the other. by 
the bayonet. Sir, we are so daily in the habit of 
hearing of all the instruments of death, that a stran 
ger would suppose no other articles were manufact 
ured or used in the United States, and that it was a 
standing order of the day to be told of them ; and it 
is a little extraordinary, that most of the gentlemen 
who have spoken on the other side, have reminded 
us of them. Power, says the gentleman, in what 
ever hands it may fall, will be abused. I hope that 
he is mistaken, and that time will convince him of 
his error; but if it should be so, no one in the coun 
try will hold power long, because there is a peace 
able corrective in the nation, the application of 
which is perfectly well understood, and is, in my 
opinion, a sovereign antedote to prevent this abuse. 
I mean a remedy to which I have often already refer 
red the gentleman ; it is an answer of itself to almost 



428 APPENDIX. 

/everything that has been said I mean elections. 

These gentlemen seem to depend on threats and 

bayonets. We always had a better dependence ; it 

was elections and the good sense of the people ; and 

these, it seems to me, are what every true republican 

ought to depend on, in a country where the people 

would as soon change a President as a constable 

for doing wrong. 

"Do gentlemen expect to affright us by the con 
stant cry of terror, or do they intend to prepare the 
nation for civil war, and all the evils consequent to 
such a state of things? If such be their object, let 
me tell them they will find themselves mistaken in 
both respects; they will not deter us from doing 
what we think ought to be done ; and if all Congress 
were to join, they could not produce a separation of 
the States ; the people would laugh to scorn all those 
who should wickedly make the attempt ; they would 
say to them, in language not to be misunderstood, 
We gave you no authority to divide us from our 
brethren, we are determined never to fight them, 
let you determine what you may. Instead of fight 
ing our neighbors, we will hold elections, and send 
more faithful men to fill the places you have dis 
graced. 

"It is rung in our ears from all quarters, that we 
shall destroy the constitutional divisions of the 
departments by passing this bill. The Legislative, 
the Executive, and the Judicial, will all be unhinged 
by keeping them in exactly the same condition they 
have been for twelve years; and to add to all the 
other mighty charges, we are told, that we are about 
to repeal the law because the judges do not agree 
with us in political opinion. This could scarcely 
be thought to have much weight, if the gentleman 
will reflect that six judges are quite enough to sound 



APPENDIX. 429 

the tocsin, whenever there shall be danger that the 
other departments are about to invade the liberty of 
the people; or is it necessary to keep up these new 
judges to prepare the people for this terrible work 
of plunging the bayonet into the breast of their 
nearest kinsman or neighbor? Whatever may be 
the opinion of the judges lately appointed in other 
States, I hope I may be permitted to state, that the 
judge appointed in North Carolina does not dis 
agree with us in politics (Sitgreaves, of Halifax) ; 
and if a sincere and disinterested friendship for a 
worthy man, whom I have known from his infancy, 
and who left a lucrative practice, when he took a 
seat on the bench, could influence my vote, I should 
certainly vote against the passage of the bill. But, 
sir, shall friendship, shall respect for a worthy man, 
induce us to give a vote which we know to be 
wrong? Were it possible we should not only de 
spise ourselves, but every man of worth and candor 
would also despise us. 

"Mr. Chairman, it was my intention when I rose, 
to have examined more particularly the Constitu 
tional ground which the gentlemen on the other side 
have taken ; but as I most cordially agree in the opin 
ion delivered on this subject, by a very respectable 
member from Massachusetts (Mr. Bacon), and as 
I also agree with the gentleman from Virginia ( Mr. 
Giles), it would be needless to take up the time of 
the Committee in repeating arguments which have 
been some days delivered and remain yet to be 
answered. 

"I beg pardon of the Committee for the time I 
have occupied. I did not expect to have detained 
them so long, but the importance of the subject, and 
the wide field into which it has been branched by 
those who preceded me, will be my apology." 



NDEX. 



ABOLITIONISTS, 79. 

Academy, Davidson, 58; Gran- 
ville, 53; Hillsboro, 53. 

Adams, John, 68, 78, 86, 90, 91 ; 
President, 97, 107 ; threatens 
France, 109; mistake of, in 
North Carolina affairs, 130; 
and Gerry, 131; on South Amer 
ican affairs, 131-133; and France 
139-142; abuse of, in Pennsyl 
vania, 156. 

Adams, John Quincy, minister 
to Prussia, 107; favors Louis 
iana purchase, 190; his opin 
ion of New England Federal 
ists, 278; Secretary of State, 
306; favors annexation of Flor 
ida, 31 1 ; candidate for the pres 
idency, 337 ; his policy as to 
the Panama Congress, 351-352; 
desires Macon to become can 
didate for the Vice-Presiden 
cy, 364. 

Adams, Samuel, 157. 

Adet, French minister to the 
United States, 81, 105. 

Alabama, admitted into the 
Union, 317. 

Alexander, Evan, M. C. from 
North Carolina, 223. 

Alliances, strange party, in the 
South in 1832,384. 

Alien and Sedition laws passed, 
117 ; petitions for repeal of, 137- 
138 

Alston, Willis. M. C. from North 
Carolina, 178; defeats Davie, 
181 ; supports policy of Presi 
dent Jefferson in 1807, 221 : his 
ability, 222; uncertain politics 
of, 275. 

Amelia Island, anarchy on, 311. 

Ames, Kisher, speech of, on Jay 
treaty, 86. 

Anson, county of, 23. 

Anti-Federalists, 55. 

Arkansas, territory applies for 
admission into the Union, 815. 

Army, Regular, revolutionary, 
25. 

Army, standing, 263 ; increase 
of, 275-277. 



Ashe, Samuel, judge of North 
Carolina superior courts im 
peached, 194. 

Ashe, Colonel, of Wilmington 
militia district, 178. 

Assumption bill, 69. 

Aurora, newspaper, 122, 123, 124. 

BANK, National, 60.62; re-char 
ter of, 267-269, 293-295. 

Barbour, James, U.S. Senator 
from Virginia, 292; Chairman 
Senate committee on Foreign 
Relations, 308-309; resolutions 
presented by, his Navigation 
bill, 349. 

Barron, Commodore, James, 
and the "Chesapeake affair," 
217. 

Bayard, James A., his opinion 
of British policy,119; Jeffer 
son s election in 1801,164; the 
Judiciary bill, 175 ; on Nation 
al limitations, 176. 

Benbury, Thomas, of North 
Carolina, 51. 

Benton, Jesse, of North Caroli 
na, 33. 

Benton, Thomas H., 28, 33 ; U. S. 
Senator from Missouri, 342; 
member of Senate committee 
to propose amendments to the 
Constitution, 358; his expung 
ing resolution, 383. 

Betts, William, of Wake county, 
North Carolina, 25. 

Bloodworth, Thomas, 90. 

Bloodworth, Timothy, 38, 39, 40, 
50, 51, 90. 

Blount, Henry, of Nash county, 
North Carolina, 393. 

Blount, Thomas, M. C. from 
North Carolina, 79, 100, 221, 222. 

Blount, William, U. S. Senator 
from Tennessee, convicted of 
treason, 105. 

Bourne, Benjamin, M. C. from 
Rhode Iiland, 59, 69. 

Boylan, William, editor of the 
Raltigh Minerva, 158; active 
partisan, 178. 

Branch, John, U. S. Senator 



432 



INDEX. 



from North Carolina. 342; 
member of Jackson s cabinet, 
381. 

Breckenridge, John, leader in 
Kentucky politics, 157; reso 
lution of, to repeal the Federal 
Judiciary Act of 1801, 175. 

Brown, Bedford, U. S. Senator 
from North Carolina, 381 ; can 
vasses North Carolina against 
W. P. Mangum, 390; Brown- 
Mangum contest, 395. 

Bryan, Nathan, M.C.from North 
Carolina, 79. 

Buck Spring, home of Nathan 
iel Macon, 45,89, 99, 370-373. 

Buford, A. S., Colonel in Revo 
lutionary war, 23. 

B urges, Dempsey, M. C. from 
North Carolina, speech of, on 
Assumption bill, 94. 

Burgoyne, General John, sur 
render of, 27. 

Burke, Edmund, 58. 

Burnet, staff officer to General 
Nathaniel Greene, 62. 

Burr, Aaron, 9, 10, 69; active in 
New York politics, 156; Vice- 
President, 164-167; out of the 
confidence of his party, 192. 

Burril, James, U. S. Senator 
from Rhode Island, 315. 

Bute, county of, 2, 8, 10. 21; Court 
House, 12. 

Butler, of South Carolina, colo 
nel in Revolutionary war; 26. 

CALHOUN, JOHN C., M. C. from 
South Carolina, 274 ; candidate 
for the Presidency, 334, 337; 
ally of Jackson, Vice-Presi 
dency, 338; change of policy, 
36L-362; breaks with President 
Jackson, 380, 381 ; his position 
in 1832, 334 ; awkward role of, 
in 1836, 390-391. 

Campbell, G. W., M. C. from 
Tennessee, 219; U. S. Senator 
from Tennessee, 292; Chair 
man Senate committee on 
Finance, 294; Ibid, 309, 349. 

Campbelltown, battle of, 19, 23. 

Canada, plan for the annexation 
of, 286-287 ; invasion of, 283. 

Cape Fear river, 8, 26. 

Capital, National, proposal to 
remove, 229. 

Carriage tax, 72. 

Caswell, Ru-hard, militia gene 
ral in the Revolution, 24, 35, 40. 



Caswell, William, militia gene 
ral in the Revolution, 23, 26. 

Catawba river, 21. 

Caucus, Congressional, dissatis 
faction with, 281. 

Chase, Samuel, Supreme Court 
Judge, :n the South, 143,159; 
plan for impeachment of, 186- 
187; impeachment, 194-196 

Charleston, South Carolina, 23 
24, 28, 61, 62. 

Charlotte, North Carolina, 24, 28. 

Cheves. Langdon, M. C. from 
South (Carolina, 274; favors 
war of 1812, 277. 

Chowan, county of, 20, 23, 33. 

Civil service, Jefferson makes 
changes in, 197. 

Clay, Henry, 52; begins his ca 
reer in Kentucky, 157; M. C. 
from Kentucky, Speaker of 
the House of Representatives, 
274; urges war with England 
in 1812,277; his policy of in 
ternal improvements, 297, 298 ; 
displeased at President Mon 
roe s policy, 306-307; organizes 
opposition to Monroe, 307; 
favors the recognition of South 
American republics, 31 1; mem 
ber of American Colonization 
Society, 314; secures the final 
passage of the Great Compro 
mise, 325-326; his plans for the 
tariff of 1824, 340-341 ; revives 
his internal improvements 
policy, 343 ; opens i he fight for 
the 3d charter of the National 
bank, 383. 

Clay, Joseph, M. C. from Penn 
sylvania, chairman of thecom- 
mittee on Ways and Means, 
209. 

Cleaveland, Benjamin, militia 
colonel in the Revolution, 28. 

Clinton, DeWitt, of New York, 
joins the Federalist, 281; his 
important service to New 
York, 297 ; effect of the build 
ing of the Erie canal, 343. 
Clinton, George, of New York, 
68, 69; candidate for the Vice- 
Presidency, 192. 
Clinton, Henry, British general 

in the Revolution, 11. 
Commerce, State control of, 39 ; 
commerce vs. agriculture, 101- 
102 ; protection of, 118. 
Confederacy, Southern, 13, 55. 
Congress, Continental, 15, 16, 34, 



INDEX. 



433 



39, 44, 47, 52, 56 ; National, early 
session of, in 1807, 219; extra 
session, May, 1809, 244. 

Congressmen, life of, in Wash 
ington, 302; Southern, oppose 
Mrs. (General) Greene s claim, 
62, 63. 

Connecticut, 49 ; land patents of, 
in Pennsylvania, 156; a strong 
ly Federalist state, 157. 

Constitution, National, 46, 50, 54, 
79; amendments to, 190-191, 
269, 299 

Convention, Constitutional, of 
North Carolina, 387 ; Philadel- j 
phia, 44, 50. 

Cooper, Doctor Thomas, 117. 

Corn wall is, Lord, 24-30, 36-37. 

Cotten, Edward k., 5, 7, 8, 21. 28, 
31, 32, 41. 

Cotton-growing, 66. 

Crawford, William H., Secretary 
of the Treasury, 306 ; begins to 
plan for winning the Presi 
dency, 316; his health fails, 338. 

Credit, American, 48, 49 

Creek Indian controversy, 355- | 
356. 

Crisis, financial, of 1820, 331, 

Cross Creek, battle of, 23. 

Culpeper. John, M. C. from 
North Carolina, 223. 

Cumberland, county of, 18, 23. 

DANA, SAMUEL W., M. C. from 
Connecticut^ 115 ; U. S. Sena 
tor, 292. 

Dandridge, Martha, 1,2. 

Davidson, William L., militia 
general in the Revolution, 26. 

Davie, William R., 26, 28, 53; 
brigadier general, 129; Ameri 
can envoy to France, 130, 141 ; 
Adams blunder in appoint 
ing, 160; accepts office under 
President Jefferson, 171 ; Ma- 
con s attempt to win his sup- I 
port for Republican party, 178, 
179; candidate for Congress,181. I 

Dayton, Jonathan,speaker of the ; 
House of Representatives, 78. j 

Do Armond, legion of, in Revo- j 
lution,26. 

" Debt, British," due by the citi- I 
zens of the States, 48; of the 
United States government, 48; 
funding of the National debt, 
64 ; of the States of the Union, 
93; gradual payment of the 
National debt, 197. 

28 



Declaration of Independence, 58. 

D Estaing, 23. 

Deficit, National, 293. 

De Grasse, Count, 75. 

Democracy, The Western, 52. 

Democrats, 79-80; oppose Su 
preme Court, 231 ; oppose Na 
tional bank, 295, 

Diekson, Joseph, M. C. from 
North Carolina, 162. 

Dissenters, English and Scotch, 
numerous in the South, 9. 

Duane, William, editor of the 
Aurora, arrested, 143, 207. 

Dudley, Edward B, Governor of 
North Carolina, 394. 

Duvall, M. C. from Maryland, 73. 

EATON, JOHN H., of Tennessee, 
canvasses North Carolina for 
Jackson. 338. 

Edenton, 4, 9, 33,46; memorial 
to the Legislature from, 33. 

Edgecombe, county of, 2, 24, 25. 

Edinburg, University of, 8. 

Education, public, 52-53. 

Edwards, Weldon N., 7. 

Ellsworth, Oliver, 141, 142. 

Embargo, bill for, on trade, 
passes Congress, 224; evasion 
of embargo laws in New Eng 
land, 225 ; repeal of, 235, 240-241. 

England, 8; overtures from, 248. 

Enquirer, Richmond, Republi 
can party organ, 267; opinion 
of Macon, 292-293 ; its relations 
with John Randolph, 304; 
champions State rights, 316 ; 
fierce opposition to Adams 
and Clay, 361-362; its tribute 
to Macon, 399. 

Eppes, John W., M. C. from Vir 
ginia, 261 ; U. S. Senator, 292 ; 
on important committees, 349 

" Era of Good Feeling," The, 300. 

Erskine, British minister to the 
United States, 243-244; failure 
of his plans, 248. 

Essex Junto, 219. 

Excise law, 72. 

Expansion of the slave power, 
270-272. 

FASTING AND PRAYER, day of, 
ordered by the Government, 
128 

Fayetteville, 19. 

Federalists, 55, 69, 71, 73, 77, 78, 83; 
views of, on the increase of the 
standing army, 99; hopeful 



434 



INDEX. 



mood of, 104 ; urge war with 
France, 109; their naturaliza 
tion laws, 116; their contempt 
of public opinion, 126-127 ; of 
North Carolina, 130; ridicule 
the Republican regime, 174; 
oppose the Louisiana Pur 
chase, 183; they lose ground 
in North Carolina, 193 ; regain 
influence, 218, 242 ; attitude of, 
on war of 1812, 277; New Eng 
land Federalists intrigue with 
English emissaries, 278 ; fall 
of, in North Carolina, 289, 

Federal courts, opposition to, 
156; federal taxes, 159. 

Fithian, Philip, 9. 

Florida, acquired by the United 
States, 312, 313 

Foreign affairs, the complica 
tion of our, in 1791 to 1800, 57-58. 

Forsyth, staff officer to General 
Greene, 62. 

F ranee, in alliance with Ameri 
can Colonies, 15; flag of, pre 
sented to Congress, 82-83 ; hos 
tile toward the United States, 
104 ; relations of, with the Uni 
ted States, 138-142 ; ignores em 
bargo, 225 ; her trade decrees 
annulled, 266. 

Franklin, Jesse, U. S. Senator 
from North Carolina, 130. 

Franklin, Meshack. M, C. from 
North Carolina, 223; staunch 
republicanism of, 275. 

Frederick the Great, 14. 

Freneau, Philip, the partisan 
editor, 59. 

GAILLIARD, JOHN, U. S. Sena 
tor from South Carolina, 292. 

Gaines, General E. P., sent to 
Georgia in 1824, 336. 

Gales, Joseph, founds the Ral 
eigh Register, 157-158 ; influen 
tial leader, 178-179. 

Gallatin, Albert, 90, 95; coope 
rates with Macon, 97 ; leader 
of Republicans in the House 
of Representatives, 111 ; his 
opposition to the Alien and 
Sedition laws, 116 ; opposes a 
direct National tax, 121 ; Sec 
retary of the Treasury, 173; his 
relations to the Macon bills, 
250-251 ; combination in Con 
gress against, 256; recom 
mends a protective tariff law, 
261 ; attacked by the Smith 



faction, 265-266 ; favors the re- 
charter of the National bank, 
267, 293 ; his report on the Gov 
ernment finances, 277; defends 
the National bank, 382. 

Garnett, James M., M. C. from 
Virginia,memberof the House 
committee on Ways and 
Means, 209. 

Gaston, William, M. C. from 
North Carolina, 275; speech 
of, against the war of 1812, 285; 
discrimination against, in 
constitution of North Caroli 
na, 389. 

Gates, General Horatio, 25, 27. 

Gazette, United States National, 
59. 

George III, 3. 

Georgia, and the Yazoo land 
frauds, 199 ; and the Creek In 
dian controversy, 355. 

Gerry, Elbridge, American en 
voy to France, 122 ; despatches 
of, 138-139; Vice-President of 
the United States, 281. 

Giles, William B., 69, 70, 83, 90, 
93, 189 ; U. S. Senator from Vir- 
ginia,249; his bill before Con 
gress, 249-252. 

Govan, A. R., M. C. from South 
Carolina, his description of 
Macon at Buck Spring, 372. 

Government, National, 39,40,54. 

Granville, county of, 17, 33. 

Greene, General Nathaniel, 29, 
36, 60-64. 

Greene, Mrs. Nathaniel, claim 
of, 60-64. 

Griffith, David, 16. 

Griswold, Roger, 68; fight of, 
105; resolution of, to impeach 
Vice-President Jefferson, 136- 
137. 

Grove, W. B., M. C. from North 
Carolina; 68, 75, 76, 87 ; an ac 
tive partisan, 178; defeated, 181. 

Grundy, Felix, M. C. from Ten 
nessee, 274. 

Guerard, Governor of South 
Carolina, 62. 

Guilford, county of, 17, 23. 

Guilford Court House, 20,36. 

HAGNER, PETER, second audi 
tor of the U. S. Treasury, 151. 

Halifax, brigade, 26; Congress, 
14, 20, 25 ; town of, 29, 32, 38. 

Hamilton, Alexander, 57, 58, 62 
64, 69. 70, 73 ; his intrigues, 104- 



INDKX. 



435 



his South American scheme, 
131-133; plan to divide the large 
Slates, 138-139; desires war 
with France, 139-142; plan to 
win vote of South Carolina, 
163 ; his remodeling the United 
States courts, 175 ; opinion of, 
on the Louisiana Purchase, 183. 

Hamilton, Paul, Secretary of the 
Navy, 264. 

Harper, Robert Goodloe, M. C. 
from South Carolina, and the 
Alien laws, 116-1J7; his reply 
to Macon, 118-119 ; on Sedition, 
123. 

Harrington, Colonel, 26. 

Harrison, Carter B., M. G. from 
Virginia, 122, 128. 

Harrison, William H., candi 
date for Presidency, 395. 

Hawkins, Benjamin, 3, 4, 11, 22, 
35, 53; U. S. Senator from North 
Carolina, ignores Legislature s 
instructions, 68 ; appointed In 
dian commissioner, 77 ; his re 
lations to President Jefferson, 
141. 

Hawkins, Joseph, 4, 8, 33. 

Hawkins, Philemon, 2, 4, 10. 

Henderson, Archibald, M. C. 
from North Carolina, 167, 179, 
181. 

Henry, Patrick, 48, 49, 55, 141. 

Hill, M. C. from Maine, 324. 

Hill. William, 181. 

Hillsboro, 15, 24, 25, 27, 33, 34, 55 ; 
Hillsboro Convention, The, 
20: district of, 56. 

Hogg, Gavin, 372. 

Holden, W. W., editor Raleigh 
Standard. 392. 

Holland, 14. 

Holmes, M. C. from Maine, 324. 

Hooper, George, a Tory refugee, 

Hooper, William, 15, 16, 19,34; 
favors mild policy toward the 
Tories, 38, 39, 68, 70. 

Horsey, U. S. Senator from Del 
aware, 315. 

Hubquarter creek, 4, 41. 

Hudson river, 14. 

Huger, Daniel, 67. 

Hunter, Banks & Co., 61. 

Hunter, U. S. Senator from 
Rhode Island, 315. 

INSTRUCTING U. 8. SENATORS, 

policy of, 381. 
Internal Improvements in 



North Carolina, 51, 52-54 286 
growth of the idea of, 295-297. 
"Invisibles," influence of, in 
Washington and Congress,247- 

Iredell, James, 47, 80 ; Judge of 
tt^e U. S. Supreme Court, 86, 

Iredell, James, Jr., U. S. Senator 
from North Carolina, 381. 

Iron, mining and manufacture 
of, 95. 

Irving, Washington, 28. 

JACKSON, ANDREW, vote of, on 
Washington s farewell ad 
dress, 91 ; a backwoods soldier, 
287; candidate for the Presi 
dency, 337 ; Jackson-Clay con 
test over the National bank, 
383 ; long letter of, to Macon 
386. 

Jackson, British minister in 
Washington, 248. 

James river, 8. 

Jamea II, of England; 18. 

Jay, John, 58, 84, 163; the Jay 
treaty, 78, 83-87. 

Jefferson, Thomas, 4, 6, 9, 22, 39 
47, 57, 58, 69 ; his opinion of the 
National excise Jaw, 72 ; of the 
Jay treaty, 84 ; his return to 
politics, 89 ; on direct taxation, 
96 ; Vice-President, 104 ; candi 
date for the Presidency, 131 ; 
charged with treason, 134-135 ; 
his opposition to Alien and 
Sedition laws, 138; directs cam 
paign of 1800, 156, 157 ; his opin 
ion of North Carolina politics 
in 1800, 162 ; Jefferson-Burr con 
test in the House of Represen 
tatives, 164-167; his inaugura 
tion, 167; asks Macon s advice 
on Federal appointments, 169 ; 
policy of, in Federal appoint 
ments, 170; his first annual 
message to Congress, 173 ; eti 
quette of, while President, 173; 
a constructive statesman, 177 ; 
popularity of, 189 ; his control 
of Congress, 189-190; his re 
forms, 190; renominated by 
Republican caucus, 192 ; his 
painful indecision on foreign 
affairs, 193; his simplicity of 
life, as President, 196; his re 
puted atheism, 197 ; appointr 
ments, 197; does not interfere 
in the election of the Speaker 



436 



INDEX. 



of the House, 201 ; annoyed at 
. Macon s behavior, 202; the 
"Man of the Mountain," 205; 
regrets " family quarrel," his 
overtures to Macon, 207 : repu 
diates the "Quids," 207-208; 
letter to Macon (see foot note), 
216; his gunboat scheme, 221- 
222; recommends an embargo, 
224 ; his increase of the stand 
ing army, 226 ; retires from 
politics, 241 ; his interest in 
politics aroused again, 327-328 ; 
financial embarrassments,331- 
832. 

Johnson, Richard M. , candidate 
for the Vice- Presidency, 391. 

Johnston, Charles, 33. 

Johnston, county of, 24. 

Johnston, Samuel, 4, 14, 16, 19, 
20,21 ; candidate for Governor 
ship, 34 ; elected Governor, 50; 
loses seat in the U. S. Senate, 
68; disheartened, 77; defeated 
for the U. S. Senate, 129. 

Jones, Joseph, 373. 

Jones, Willie, leader of extreme 
republicans in North Carolina, 
36; his relations with Macon, 
37, 38, 40; a member of the 
Hillsboro Convention, 44, 45, 
51; his statecraft, 51-54; his 
policy on public education, 53; 
in campaign of 1796, 90; last 
days of, 170-171. 

Judiciary bill, debate on, 174-175; 
Judiciary act, 181 ; see appen 
dix, 402. 

KALBE, BARON VON, 24, 26. 

Kenan, Thomas, M. C. from 
North Carolina, 223. 

Kentucky resolutions, 138. 

King, William R., M. C. from 
North Carolina, 275 ; speech on 
war of 1812, 276-277; removes 
to Alabama, canvasses North 
Carolina in the interest of 
Jackson, 338 ; change of politi 
cal policy, 361. 

King, Boras, minister to Eng 
land, 132; U. S Senator from 
New York, 292; anti-slavery 
leader in the Senate, 325, 349. 

Kings Mountain, battle of, 29, 

LEIGH, B.W., U.S. Senator from 
Virginia, ally of Calhoun, 384 ; 
resigns seat in the Senate, 397. 



Leopard, war vessel, engagement 
with the Chesapeake, 217. 

Lincoln, Benjamin, 23, 24, 25. 

Livingston, Brock hoist, and the 
Louisiana Purchase, 183. 

Livingston, Edward, M. C. from 
New York, speech of, on the 
Jay treaty, 84 ; charged with 
treason by opponents, 123. 

Locke, Matthew, 51, 79, 120. 

Logan, Doctor George, his mis 
sion to Paris, 131; charged with 
treason, 134-135; letter to Con 
gress, 136-137. 

Louisiana Purchase, 182; ap 
proved by Congress. 189. 

Lowndes, William, M. C. from 
South Carolina, 191 ; candidate 
for the Speakershlp, 325. 

Lyon, Matthew, fight with Gris- 
wold in the House of Repre 
sentatives, 105; attempt to ex 
pel him, 106-107; imprisoned 
under the Sedition law, 143; 
M. C. from Kentucky, 246. 

MACFARLAND, DUNCAN, 223. 

Macon, family, The, 1 ; Macon 
Manor, 2, 3. 

Macon, Betsey, daughter of Na 
thaniel Macon, 45, 

Macon, Gideon, settles in North 
Carolina, 2, 3 ; will of, 4 ; wife 
of, 3, 4, 7. 

Macon, John, 4, 22, 24, 32, 50, 51, 
55; leader in the North Caro 
lina legislature, 90. 

Macon, Nathaniel, 3, 5; in col 
lege, 7 : studies law, 11 ; in the 
army, 23-30 ; in battle of Cam- 
den, 24 ; in camp on the Yad- 
kin, 28-29 ; in the State Senate, 
29-40; a member of important 
committees, 32, 33, 34; his broth 
ers in the Assembly, 38; mar 
ries Miss Plummer, 41 ; builds 
a home, 42-43: his slaves, 43; 
appointed a delegate to the 
Congress of the Confederation, 
44 ; Lieutenant Colonel of the 
Warren county militia, 44; his 
family Bible, 44 : death of his 
wife, 45; his attitude towards 
the Nationol constitution, 55; 
enters U. S. House of Repre 
sentatives, 56 ; on apportion 
ment of members of Congress, 
59; opposes the claim of Mrs. 
Greene, 60-64 ; calls for investi 
gation of the Treasury depart- 



INDEX. 



437 



ment, 65; serves on commit 
tees, 60 ; attacks Hamilton, 69- 
70; on excise laws, 71-72; a 
member of the committee on 
elections, 73-74 ; opposes a pen 
sion to the de Grasse family, 
75 ; leader of the North Caro 
lina delegation in Congress,79; 
makes objection to form of 
President s address, 80-81 ; ad 
vocate of the French alliance, 
83 ; the Jay treaty, 87 ; letter to 
Ashe on Jay treaty, 88 ; favors 
admission of Tennessee, 88; 
against increasing salaries of 
Representatives, 88, 97; always 
at his post, 89; a "field hand," 
90; Kepublican plans for North 
Carolina, in 1796, 90: disap 
proves Washington s address, 
December, 1796, 91-92; opposes 
a National university, 92-93; 
speech against payment of 
North Carolina s debt to the 
Union, 94 ; opposes protection 
to iron industry, 95; on peti 
tions from slaves, 96; opposi 
tion to appropriations, 98 ; op 
poses increase of the navy, 100; 
the Federalist supremacy, 104; 
interest in the Lyon affair, 106; 
first long speech, 108 ; his ideas 
of proper civil service appoint 
ments, 108, 169 ; repels charges, 
110-111 ; Macon and Gallalin, 
111, 116 ; on referring petitions, 
115; "Protection of Trade," 118; 
disconcerts party plans, 120; 
letter to Bigelow, 120; on di 
rect taxes, 121; the Sedition 
bill, 123-126; on newspapers, 
124; nature of Federal govern 
ment, 126; Alien and Sedition 
laws, 133-134; his first defense 
of Jefferson, 135-136, French 
relations, public opinion, 140; 
candidate for Speakership, 
meets Randolph, 144 ; speech 
on retrenchment, 147-148; at 
the theatre with Randolph, 
149; friendship for Randolph, 
150,174,214-215, 228; his resolu 
tion to repeal Sedition law, 
150, 154; chairman committee 
on claims, 151 ; mausoleum to 
Washington, 152 ; his devotion 
to precedent, 154; Joseph Gales, 
158, 162 ; controls Federal pat 
ronage, 160, 169-170 ; letter on 
Jefferson-Burr contest, 167; let 



ters to Jefferson, 168, 177, 182; 
on status of the Tories, state of 
North Carolina politics, at- 



rights, 176, 192; John Steele, 
179-180; Davie-Alston, contest, 
181; his prominence in North 
Carolina, 182 ; impeachment of 
Judge Chase, 187-188 ; favors 
Louisiana Purchase, wants 
Florida on similar terms, 188- 
189 ; Speakership, 190 ; uiend- 
ment to the Constitution, 190- 
195 ; attends Congressional 
caucus, 193 ; perplexed at Eng 
land s policy, 193 ; his dislike 
of society," 195; displeased 
with Jefferson s administra 
tion, 197 ; belongs to the "Bap 
tist persuasion," 197; relation 
to the "Quids," to Monroe, 
198; the Yazoo land frauds, 
199; uneasiness of friendsanout 
his re-election to Speakership 
in 1805, 200 ; puts Randolph at 
head of committee on Ways 
and Means, distressed about 
foreign affairs. 202, 203 ; plans 
to defeat Madison s candidacy, 
203; favors Gallatin for t resi 
dent, 206, 215, 233; gives up 
Randolph, 209; speech on Non 
importation, 210; fights New 
England, 211-212; on restric 
tion of the slave trade, 212-214; 
his leadership in North Caro 
lina, offered seat in the Cabi 
net, 216; Chesapeake - affair," 
217, 220; Late return to Con 
gress in 1807, 219-220 ; favors the 
embargo, 225; opposes increase 
of regular army. 226; incon 
sistent, 228 1 dislike of cities, 
229-230; hatred of "wire-pull 
ing," 231-232; suggests repeal 
of embargo, 233; the Macon 
resolutions, 235-236, 238; big 
plan fai Is, 240 ; a national char 
acter, 242-273 ; again candidate 
for the Speakership, 242-243 ; 
would investigate the finances 
of Jefferson s administration, 
245; opposes protection, 247; 
Macon bill No. 1, he drafts 
"House rules," 249-255; chair 
man of the committee on For 
eign relations, 251, 280; speech 
on bill No. 1, 253-255; his bill 



438 



INDEX. 



vitiated by amendment,depre- 
cates move of Randolph, 256- 
258 ; bill No. 2, 258-260 ; tariff, 
army, navy, 261-263 ; times all 
"out of joint," 264-265; letter 
on National bank, 268; propo 
ses amendment to Constitu 
tion, 269 ; expansion of the 
South, 270-272 ; Monroe. Secre 
tary of State, 273 ; supports 
Madison s administration, 275; 
at disadvantage in debate, 277; 
rebukes Federalists, 279 ; votes 
for war with England, 279; 
chairman of committee to in 
vestigate conduct of the war, 
284 : his report, 284-285 ; Judge 
Gaston, 285; on disbanding 
army, his political faith, 288; 
his standing in North Caro 
lina, 289; elected to the U. S. 
Senate, 290; letter to Nichol 
son, 290 ; opposes the bank in 
1816, 294; his love for the 
"South country," 296; opposi 
tion to Clay, 298; satirizes 
society in Washington, 300-301; 
his manner of living, 302; his 
standing in 1815, 305-306 ; on 
Senate committees on Foreign 
relations, on Finance, 309 ; 
Constitutional amendments, 
internal improvements un 
constitutional, 310; opposes 
recognition of South Ameri 
can republics, 311; Florida 
purchase, distrusts Andrew 
Jackson, 312; foresees the 
slavery controversy of 1820 X 
313-514 ; leader of "Old Repub 
licans," 316 ; speeches of, on 
Missouri question, 317-318, 319- 
320 ; votes against the compro- 
mise,second compromise, final 
vote, 323-326 ; co-founder of the 
school of secession, 326; re 
newal of cordial relations with 
Jefferson, 327-328; bitter feel 
ing towards the North, 329-330; 
supports Crawford, 333; ad 
vises the South to vote "solid," 
334 ; distrusts Calhoun, 334-335; 
declined to attend Republican 
caucus, 335-337 ; his influence 
in politics, 336 ; intimate friend 
of Crawford, 338 ; his opposi 
tion to Jackson, 339; indiffer 
ent as to the outcome of the 
Adams-Jackson contest in the 
House, 340; last stand against 



the "American System," 345; 
speech of, 346 : review of his 
politics, 347-348 ; chairman 
Senate committee on Foreign 
relations, 349 ; report of, on 
American commerce, Presi 
dent pro tern, of the Seriate, 
350, 365 ; speech of, against the 
Panama Congress, 351 ; report 
of, on Panama mission, 352- 
353; the claims of Georgia 
against the Creek Indians, 357: 
member of the Senate com 
mittee to report amendments 
to the Constitution, favors 
present system of electing the 
President, 358; his plan for 
improving the civil service, 
859 ; venerated in Virginia and 
Georgia, 362 ; receives vote of 
Virginia for the Vice-Presi 
dency, 363; Adams proposes 
him for Vice-President, 364- 
365; changes his opinion of 
Jackson, 366; advice to the 
South, 367 ; his resignation, 
368 ; letter to the General As 
sembly, 368-369 ; last years, 370- 
401 ; at Buck Spring, 370 ; value 
of his estate, 370-371 ; life at 
Buck Spring, 371-372 ; relations 
with his neighbors, 373 ; advice 
to young men, 374-376; treat 
ment of slaves, the civil status 
of.the negro, 376-377; his Church 
relations, 377 ; study of the 
Bible, 375-377 ; naming of Ran- 
dolph-Macon College, 377-379 ; 
urges Bedford Brown to "stand 
up" against Clay, 382, letter 
to Gallatin, 382; proposes a 
public attack on the National 
bank, 382-383; an ardent "Jack 
son man," 384; nullification, 
385; criticise Jackson, 385; re 
monstrates with Jackson, 386; 
President of North Carolina 
Constitutional convention,387; 
his political creed restated,388- 
389; disapproves work of the 
Convention, 389; short farewell 
address, 390 ; becomes a Van 
Buren elector, 394 ; his influ 
ence in campaign of 1836,396; 
a published interview of, 397- 
398 ; last illness and death, 398; 
tributes from the press, 399; his 
place in American history, 400. 
Macon, Priscilla, wife of Gideon 
Macon, 3, 4, 7. 



INDEX. 



439 



Macon, Seignora, daughter of 
Nathaniel Macon, 45. 

Madison, James, 8, 58, 69, 70, 75 ; 
urges Jefferson to become can 
didate for Presidency, 89 ; fa 
vors National university, 92-93; 
resigns seat in Congress, "man 
ages " Virginia, 157 ; his vie\\ 
of North Carolina politics, 162; 
Secretary of State, 183, 198 ; 
connection with the Yazoo 
land frauds, 199 ; President of 
the United States, discord in 
his cabinet, 243; duped by 
Canning, 243; re-forms cabinet, 
273; sends the Henry papers 
to Congress, 278 ; re-election of, 
281-282 ; poor executive officer, 
283 ; his interest in American 
Colonization Society, 314. 

Maine, separated from Massa 
chusetts, 317; admitted into 
the Union, 323-324. 

Mangum, Willie P., U. S. Sen- 
tor from North Carolina, 381 ; 
leader in the fight for National 
bank, 383; his alliance with 
Calhoun, 384; refuses to be 
"instructed," 390; receives 
vote of South Carolina for the 
Presidency, 397 ; resigns seat 
in the Senate, 397. 

Marbury, 183. 

Mark, Jacob, 95 

Martin, Alexander, 8,40, .53,68; 
U. S. Senator from North Car 
olina, 129, 130, 143. 

Martin, Josiah, royal governor 
of North Carolina in 1776, 14,18. 
.Marshall, John, 9; deplores the 
trend of North Carolina poli 
tics, 91; his Marbury v.Madi- 
eon decision, 183-186; decision 
of, in Martin v. Hunter, lessee, 
308. 

Maryland, 49; protests against 
war of 1812, 283; becomes a 
slave exporting state, 314. 

Massachusetts, declines to grant 
land to the Union, 99; Fede 
ralist control of, 163 ; opposes 
Non-importation, 218-219; pro 
test of, 2aS; compared with 
Virginia, 287. 

McBryde, Archibald, M. C.from 
North Carolina, 242-275 

McDowell, Colonel Joseph, 28; 
M. C from North Carolina,180. 

Mclntosh, leader of Creek In 
dians, 356. 



McKean, Governor of Pennsyl 
vania, 156. 

McLaine, Alexander, 38, 49, 68. 

Mecklenburg, county of, 21. 

Mercer, M. C. from Maryland,73. 

Mercer, Hugh, M. C. from Vir 
ginia, a "Quid," 207. 

Mifilin, of Pennsylvania, 156. 

Militia of New Jersey, 11 ; of 
Connecticut^ 13; militia bill 
in Congress, 71; bill for amend 
ing, 220. 

Miranda, John, South Ameri 
can revolutionist, 132-133; his 
plans fail, 141-142. 

Missouri compromise, 315: ter 
ritorial convention of, 324-325. 

"Mobocrats," 70, 80. 

Monroe, James, 8, 9, 89 ; in dis 
grace. 104; candidate for gov 
ernorship of Virginia, 157 ; his 
share in the Louisiana Pur 
chase, 182-183 ; in London, 198 ; 
Secretary of State, 273 ; oppo 
ses Clay s internal improve 
ments policy, 299; a JefTerso- 
nian, 299-300; etiquette at the 
White House, 300 ; his cabinet, 
306; first annual message, 307- 
308 ; interest in American Col 
onization Society, 314 ; re-elec 
tion of, 333. 

Moore, county of, 23. 

Moore, Colonel John, 23 ;M. C. 
from North Carolina, 179. 

Moore, J, W.. the historian, 28,31, 

Moore s Creek Bridge, battle of, 
18, 19. 

Morris, Robert, in jail, 105. 

Muhlenburg, Speaker of the Na 
tional House of Representa 
tives, 59. 

Mumford, George, M. C. from 
North Carolina, 308. 

Murfree, William H, M. C.from 
North Carolina, plan for in 
ternal improvements, 286. 

Mutiny of Halifax (North Caro 
lina) regiment, 25. 

NAPOLEON, attempt of, to lead 

the United States into war 

with England, 248. 
Nash, Abner, Governor of North 

Carolina, 34; message of, to 

the Legislature, 35-36. 
Nash, county of, 24-25. 
Nationalists, suggest union of 

the States, 47, 49, 57. 
National Intelligencer, 205, 366. 



440 



INDEX. 



New Bern, 31, 32, 46. 

New England, opposes Virginia 
and Kentucky resolutions, 138; 
dangerous opposition of, 234 ; 
publicly receives Minister 
Jackson, 248 ; disaffection of, 
249; New England secession, 
278. 

New Hampshire, 27. 

New Jersey, College of, 4, 8, 9. 16, 
53. 

New York, 16, 49 ; debt of, to the 
Union, 94 ; scheme to control. 
163 ; Bar Association of, pro 
tests against reforms of Na 
tional Judiciary, 175. 

Nicholas, W. P. , M. C. from Vir 
ginia, his resolution discussed, 
107. 

Nicholson, of Ktntucky, a Jef 
ferson leader, 157. 

Nicholson, Joseph H.,21; favors 
impeachment of Judge Chase, 
188; favors Louisiana Pur 
chase, 189 ; becomes a "Quid," 
202; opposes Madison, 203. 

Non-importation, 218. 

Northampton, county of, 25. 

Northern Neck of Virginia, 9. 

North Carolina, 13, 14, 16, 18, 19, 
20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 ; history of, 
31; term of governorship, 34; 
Slate board of War, 35; and 
Willie Jones, 36; demoraliza 
tion of State finances, 37; State 
commercial policy, 39; adopts 
National constitution, 46-55; 
Bill of Rights, 52, 55; debt of, 
to the Union, 48; negroslayery 
in, 53, 54 ; influence of Virginia 
on,54 ; election of 1796, 68-69; 
representation in Congress in 
creased, 60, 70; opposes Mrs. 
Greene s claim on the Govern 
ment, 63 ; census of, in 1786, 70; 
University of, 74; people of, op- 
po e National claims against 
the St;<te, 94-95; delegation of, 
in Congress, 130; Alien and 
Sedition laws unpopular in, 
137-138; opposes Virginia and 
Kentucky resolutions, 138 ; 
Presidential electors of, 161 ; 
Federalist successes in, 162; 
North Carolina and Jefferson s 
administration, 177; impeach 
ment of Circuit Court Judges 
in, 194; North Carolina and 
the "Quids," 208; delegation 
of, in the Tent >j Congress, 1807- 



1808, 222 ; in the Eleventh, 242 ; 
reaction towards Federalism, 
274-275; vote of delegates on 
war of 1812, 280; election of 
Presidential electors,282; Clay s 
programme of 1818 unpopular 
in, 308; becomes a slave ex 
porting State, 314; repudiates 
Macon s views, 340; begin 
nings of Whig party in, 347; 
petitions Congress forC-nsti- 
tutional amendment, 3571 U. 
S. bank unpopular in, 383; Con 
vention of 1835, 387 ; change in 
constitution of, 389; Whigs 
"carry" State and Congress 
ional elections in August, 1835, 
393; Gubernatorial election, 
394 ; gives majority for Van 
Buren, 396-398. 
Nourse, Joseph, 48. 

ORANGE, county of, 17. 

Otis, Harrison G., M. C. from 
Massachusetts, resolutions of, 
117, 122, 125, 140 ; U. S. Senator, 
292 : his friendship for Macon, 
318. 

Oxford, University of, 8. 

PAGE, JOHN, 66. 

Page, Thomas J ,on Jefferson s 
election in 1800, 165. 

Paine, Thomas, 58. 

Papers, Branch Historical, 16. 

Parker, Josiah, M. C.from Vir 
ginia, 80, 81. 

Patriots, The, 20. 

Patton, John, M. C. from Dela- 
warr, 86. 

Pearson, Joseph, M. C. from 
North Carolina, 242, 275. 

Pennsylvania, 16, 56; Jefferson s 
popularity in, 89; elections in, 
143; excitement in, over the 
Jefferson- Burr contest, 166. 

People, right of, to instruct Con 
gressmen, 114. 

Person, Thomas, 33, 50, 51, 55. 

Petersburg, 2. 

Pettigrew, Charles, 4, 5, 7. 

Peyton, Francis, of Virginia, 
views <-f, on Jefferson s elec 
tion in 1800, 165. 

Philadelphia, 70, 77, 78, 79. 86. 

Pickering, John, U. S. Circuit 
Judge, impeached, 184. 

Pickering, Timothy, Secretary 
of State, 131-133 ; report of, on 



INDEX. 



441 



French relations, 139; intrigues 
of, 279. 

Pinckney, Charles C., American 
minister to France, 104, 157. 

Pinckney, William, U. S. Sena 
tor from Maryland, 316. 

Pittman, Thomas M., 43. 

Plummer, Miss Hannah, 41. 

Potomac river, 8. 

Porter, Peter B., M. C. from New 
York, 275. 

Porterfield, militia colonel In 
Revolution, 23, 24, 26. 

Portsmouth, militia of, 113-114, 
115. 

Powell, Leven, M. C. from Vir 
ginia, 16 ; on Jefferson s elec 
tion in 1800, 165 

Presbyterians, 9, 53. 

Princeton, 4, 8, 10. 

Prosperity, return of, 303. 

Prussia, 14. 

"QUIDS," THE, 198-216. 

Quincy, Josiah, M.C. from Mas 
sachusetts, speech of, on the 
Embargo 237-238; New Eng 
land leader, 249 ; dissatisfied 
with the Government, 278-279. 

RADICALS, in North Carolina,47. 

Raleigh, 29. 

Raleigh Register, a Republican 
organ, 158-159 ; supports John 
Quincey Adams in 1828, 366 ; 
becomes Whig organ, 381, 390 ; 
tribute to Macon, 399, 

Raleigh Standard, Democratic 
organ, 392 ; campaign work of, 
894-395 ; announces election re 
turns, 397. 

Raleigh Star, a Jackson organ, 
382, 391. 

Ram-sour s Mill, 26. 

Randolph, John, M. C. from 
Virginia, 144-146: speech on 
anti-slavery petitions, 147 . 
against the standing army, 148; 
opposes monument to Wash 
ington, 153 ; chairman of com 
mittee on Ways and Means, 
172, 190 ; manner of life, 174 ; on 
Judiciary bill, 175 ; State su 
premacy, 176; on the Louis 
iana Purchase, 182, 189 ; favors 
impeachment of Chase, 188, 
189; leader of impeachment 
committee, 194-196; complains 
of President Jefferson, 197; pre 
fers Monroe for President, 198- 



199; the Yazoo land frauds, 
exercised about Macon s re 
election as Speaker, 200, be 
comes a "Quid," 202 ; opposi 
tion to Madison, 203 ; to Jeffer 
son, 204 ; on Yazoo land frauds 
again, 205- 206; trade, 211; and 
Thomas M. Randolph, 214; 
votes against Non-importa 
tion, 222 ; criticises Macon,226- 
227 ; cooperates with New Eng 
land, 234; wants to investigate 
the affairs of Jefferson s ad 
ministration, 244-245 ; resolu 
tion of, 257-258 ; opposes war 
of 1812, 276: makes overtures 
to New England, 304 ; on Mis 
souri controversy, 316; co- 
founder of the doctrine of se 
cession, 326 ; makes parade of 
Macon s friendship, 359; his 
political creed, 360-361; naming 
of Randolph-Macon College, 
377-379. 

Ransom, James, 3. 

Records, North Carolina, Colo 
nial and State, 16, 18. 

Regulars, Delaware, 24 ; Mary 
land, 24. 

Regulation, war of, 14, 16, 17, 18. 

Regulators, 17, 19, 20. 

Republics, South American, dis 
cussed in Congress, 311. 

Republicans, democratic, 36, 58, 
64, 78 ; on Jay treaty, 86 ; on a 
protective tariff, 96; weakened, 
105 ; oppose war, 109 ; encour 
aged, 143 ; "carry" North Car 
olina in 1799, struggle of, in 
North Carolina legislature,161; 
supremacy of, 168 ; Republican 
machine, 173; reforms of, 174- 
175, 177 ; plan for dividing, 178 ; 
oppose John Marshall and the 
Supreme Court, 186-J87; lose 
ground in North Carolina, 242; 
"old" and "manufacturing" 
Republicans, 242 ; "old" Re 
publicans lose control of Con 
gress, 274. 

Representatives.NationalHouse 
of, 55, 56, 59 ; election of Jeffer 
son in, 164-167; apportionment 
of its members, 176. 

Revolution, American, 17, 19 ; 
influence of, on Europe, 58. 

Revolution of 1800, 156-167. 

Revolution in Congress, 273-277. 

Rhode Island, 60. 

Richmond, 24. 



442 



INDKX. 



Ritchie, Thomas, editor of the 
Richmond Enquirer, 381. 

Roanoke river, 2. 

Roosevelt, Nicholas J., 95. 

Rowan, county of, 17, 18. 

Royalists, Scotch, 16, 17, 18, 23, 26, 
36,37,47, 52,62. 

Rutledge, Edward, 157. 

Rutledge, John, of South Caro 
lina, nominated to Supreme 
Court, rejected by Senate, 157. 

SALISBURY, 15, 23, 24, 28. 

Saratoga, battle of, 15, 26. 

Saunders, Colonel, W. L., 18. 

Savannah, 9, 15, 21,22. 

Sawyer, Lemuel, M. C. from 
North Carolina, 242; opposes 
Macon bill, No. 1, 252 ; speech 
of, on Clay s programme, 1818, 
308. 

Schouler James, opinion of 
Macon, 172. 

Scotch, in North Carolina, 19, 20. 

Seawell, Major Benjamin, 25-26, 
28, 29. 

Sedgwick, Theodore, 56, 70, 73, 85, 
97; interviews with President 
Adams, 141, defeats Macon, 144. 

Sedition law, 121-122, 123-126, 150- 

151, 153-154. 

Senate, U. S., changes in, 291- 

292; supports Monroe as against 

Clay, 308-309. 
Sewall, Samuel, M. C. from Mas- 

sachuetts, 101. 
ShoccoCreek,2, 3. 
Slaveholders, 46. 
Slavery question, 60, 191, 212. 
Slocum, Jesse, M. C. from North 

Carolina, 308. 
Smallwood, Colonel of militia 

in the Revolution, 26. 
Sitgreaves, Samuel, M. C. from 

Pennsylvania, 98 ; resolution 

of, 118. 
Smith, Jeremiah, M. C. from 

New Hampshire, 98. 
Smith, Robert, Secretary of 

State, 243 ; defeats the Macon 

bill, 256. 
Smith, William, M. C. from 

South Carolina, 67. 
Society, American, Colonization, 

313-314. 
South, The, begins to become 

"solid," 332. 
South Carolina, 14, 15, 19, 21, 25, 

152, 163, 191. 
Southern Puritans, 79. 



Southside of Roanoke, 2, 38. 

Speight, Richard D., candidate 
for Governorship of North Car 
olina, 274. 

Spriggs, Richard, M. C.from Ma 
ryland, resolutions of, 109. 

Stanford, Richard, M. C. from 
North Carolina, a "Quid, "208; 
votes against Non-importa 
tion, 222, 223, 275 ; opposes war 
of 1812, 276. 

Stanly, John, M. C. from North 
Carolina, 181, 242. 

State rights, 50, 51, 57, 176, 201. 

Steele, General John, 63, 64, 66; 
letter of, to Macon, 75-77; re 
signs, his view of politics in 
1800, 184; opinion of the Mar- 
bury vs. Madison decision, 
184-185. 

Stevens, militia general in Rev 
olution, 26. 

Stone, David, U. S. Senator from 
North Carolina, 348. 

Stuart, House of, 18. 

Sumner, General Jethro, 15, 21, 
25, 26, 28. 

Sumpter, General, of South Car 
olina, 26, 120. 

Supreme Court, The, Democratic 
opposition to, 231. 

TALLEYRAND, burned in effigy, 
128, 131. 

Tarleton, Colonel, 23. 

Tariff, American, 49; protective, 
for cotton, 66, 67 ; protective, 
for manufactures, 246,260,283; 
tariff "of abominations," 346, 
385. 

Tatom, Absalom, 79. 

Taylor, John, of Caroline coun 
ty, Virginia, book of, on State 
rights, 329. 

Taylor, John W., M. C. from 
New York, elected Speaker of 
the House, 325. 

Tennessee, admission of, 88. 

Texas, The South and, 356-357. 

Thanksgiving, day of, voted by 
Congress, 289. 

Thatcher, George, M. C. from 
Massachusetts, vote of,for anti- 
slavery movement, 147. 

Thomas J. B., U. S. Senator 
from Illinois, proposes Mis 
souri compromise plan, 318; 
plan passes, 323. 

Thompson, Charles, 48. 

Thompson, Frank A., 374. 



INDEX. 



443 



Thompson, Smith, Secretary of 

the navy, 306. 

Tories, 23,26, 27,37, 38, 39, 46, 50, 159. 
Trade, National, Macon s view 

of, 39 ; The American carrying, 

118. 
Treaties : with Algiers, Indians, 

Spain, 86 ; with France, 49. 
Troup, George M., U. S. Senator 

from Georgia, 349; Governor 

of Georgia,356; plans for Macon 

to be made Vice-President, 363. 
Trumbull, Jonathan, 59. 
Try on, county of, 23. 
Tryon, British governor of North 

Carolina, 17. 
Tucker, St. George, M. C. from 

Virginia, a partisan of Clay, 

307. 
Turner, James, U. S. Senator 

from North Carolina, 294. 

UNION, THE.National, 40. 

United States frigates: Consti 
tution, Constellation, United 
States, 101. 

University, National, 267. 

VALLEY FORGE, 22, 24. 

Van Allen, John E., M. C. from 
New York, 122, 124, 128. 

Van Buren, Martin, U. S. Sena- 
ator from New York, leads 
fight against the Panama mis 
sion, 352 ; on committees, 358 ; 
candidate for the Presidency, 
391 ; letter to Macon, 392 ; on 
slavery, 395 ; elected President, 
397. 

Van Cortlandt, Philip, M. C. 
from New York, 120. 

Van Dyke, Nicholas, U. S. Sen 
ator from Delaware, 315. 

Van Murry, William, minister 
to Holland, 140. 

Varnum, Joseph, M. C. from 
Massachusetts, 86, 202 ; Speak 
er of the House of Representa 
tives, 219, 242. 

Venable, Abraham, M. C. from 
Virginia.93. 

Vermont, 27. 

Virginia, constitution of, a 
model for North Carolina, 38, 
49 : Virginia vs. New England, 
57; vote of, in 1800, 163; Vir 
ginia and Kentucky resolu 
tions, 156; excitement in, dur 
ing Jefferson-Burr contest, 166; 
becomes a slave-breeding state, 



314; a new party in, 346-347; 
carried by Democrats in 1835, 
393. 
Volney, French scientist, 118. 

WAKE, COUNTY OF, 25 ; Court 
House, 32. 

War of 1812, 277-291. 

Warren, county of, 22, 24,25, 29, 
31, 41, 44. 

Warrenton, 41, 42; holds mass 
meeting, 393. 

Washington and Lee Universi 
ty, 93. 

Washington, George, 10, 11, 
13, 21 25, 40, 49, 50, 55, 74 ; be 
friends Hawkins, 77; opinion 
of Jay treaty, 85; Washington 
and the Federalists, 91 ; Wash 
ington and National Univer 
sity, 93 ; commander-in-chief, 
129 ; treatment of Doctor Lo 
gan, 131; mausoleum to, 152. 

Webster. Daniel, joins Clay in 
the fight against Jackson, 383. 

Wheeler, John H., 18, 31, 32. 

Whigs, 19, 21, 23, 34, 36, 47 ; Whig 
party in North Carolina, 347 ; 
carry the State in 1835, also 
State elections in 1836, 394. 

Whiskey insurrection, 78. 

White. Hugh L., candidate for 
the Presidency, 391. 

White, Philo, editor of the Ral 
eigh Standard, 392. 

Wilkinson, General James, 263- 
264, 

William and Mary College, 8, 9. 

Williamson, Doctor Hugh,M.C. 
from North Carolina, 60, 66. 

Wilmington, 38, 46. 

Winston, Joseph, M. C. from 
North Carolina, votes agains 
slave trade, 213. 

Wirt, William, 204. 

Witherspoon, Doctor, 9, 10. 

Wyoming Valley, 57. 

Wythe, George, 9. 

X Y Z correspondence, 110. 

YADKIN, RIVER, 26, 28, 30. 32. 

Yancey, Bartlett, Judge of North 
Carolina Circuit Courts, death 
of, 381. 

Yankees, winning the epithet, 
2L9 

Yazoo, The, land frauds, Cabi 
net decision on, 197, 205. 

Yorktown, 37. 




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